NEWS

Journalists unions call 24-hour strike over bill on media mergers

A collection of journalists’ unions called a 24-hour strike in the Greek media on Tuesday in protest at a draft law affecting the sector.

The strike is due to run from 10 a.m. on Tuesday to 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The unions accused the government of trying to serve the interest of media moguls through the amendment, which was tabled in Parliament on Friday night.

The unions argued that the bill would lead to concentration and mass sackings in the sector.

“The amendment allows media groups to merge with the excuse of reducing costs but in effect provides indebted businessmen a path to safety,” the unions said in statement and called for the amendment to be changed.

The unionists’ demands follow SYRIZA’s request on Monday for the legislation to be withdrawn.

The leftist party labelled “provocative” an amendment that allows mass dismissals in the sector even though there are strict conditions for such sackings in other sectors of the economy.

The would-be law treats employees from the same group of companies as being from the same firm, thereby allowing media groups to bypass restrictions on firings.

The amendment also allows radio stations to change their formats (e.g. from news to music) by applying to the National Council for Radio and Television rather than having to hand their license back to the state and bid for the frequency again.

It also allows broadcasters and publishers to keep applying the nuisance tax, known as “angeliosimo” in Greek, which has to be paid by anyone advertising on their media and which goes towards paying employees’ social security contributions.

The 22-page amendment was tagged onto a draft law concerning the state’s acceptance of a donation for the creation of a hostel for relatives of cancer sufferers late on Friday.

SYRIZA also asked parliamentary speaker Evangelos Meimarakis to throw out the amendment on the grounds that “it bears no relation to the bill it was submitted with.”

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