“Media Print Macedonia” (MPM) has given new contracts to the employees in the newspapers it owns, which do not allow expression of political views on the Internet, i.e. on the social networks, so the journalists won’t be able to express their affiliation toward certain political party
Author: Ana Anastasovska
This news was confirmed by the newspapers’ employees, whereas the Telegraf website’s employees say they haven’t received such kind of contract yet. Probably because a decision for lowering their salaries isn’t still made, unlike the case with the newspapers. The lowering of the salaries continues this year, albeit it was told last year that the decision will be reexamined and the salaries will be returned to the previous levels.
The new contracts point out that the journalists must not be politically affiliated and must not write politically-related statuses on the Internet, i.e. on the social networks, they must not promote other media on the Internet, must not work for other employer in their spare time unless they have signed confirmation from the company. This will enter into force from September 1.
HARSH REACTIONS BY SOME OF THE AFFECTED JOURNALISTS
Some of the journalists working at MPM used the social networks to express their reactions regarding the new contracts and demands of their employer.
“The Internet, and the social networks as well, are not owned by the employers and this does not empower them to prohibit expression of personal views. Let the employers buy them, and they can prohibit things afterward. As it is now, no way! Plus prohibition of expression of personal views is opposed to the Constitution”, this is the reaction of Ljubisha Stankovikj, journalist in Utrinski Vesnik daily, on his Facebook profile.
Jordanka Ivanovska – Joci, a journalist from Dnevnik daily, also expressed her reaction via Facebook.
“For somebody like me, that had an F in Math, and even a G, which I had got when I was questioned for an E mark, is seriously thrilled by the fact that the ruling political elite calculated that I should be regulated, systematically managed, put in frame, in order to be shut up. Not that they cannot go the other way round, violently, but they want to enact democracy. Before elections, so explicitly. See, the problem isn’t whether I am going to be criticizing in the future or not (until I don’t leave the frame legally), the problem is how you are going to erase all of my thoughts in the past five years. Passionate, ardent, from my heart”, wrote Joci on her Facebook profile.
SSNM AND AJM: THE CONTRACTS ARE ILLEGAL AND ANTI-CONSTITUTIONAL
Representatives of the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) have had a meeting with MPM’s management in order to, as they say, receive explanation for these contracts. They didn’t get the contracts, but they were allowed to see them. SSNM has given MPM’s management a deadline to reconsider and to alter the disputable clause in the contracts, which suggested, and not prohibited the employees to express their political views on the Internet.
“We pointed out to them that this clause is illegal and anti-constitutional and it also jeopardizes the labor relations, human rights and the freedom of speech and the journalistic expression. The contract is opposed to the Article 6 from the Law on Labor Relations and also to the Articles 8, 16 and 17 from the Constitution”, emphasized Teo Blazhevski from SSNM.
The Article 6 from the Law on Labor Relations is related to the prohibition of workplace discrimination.
Paragraph 1 from this Article says:
The employer must not put the employment seeker (hereinafter; employment candidate) or the worker into unequal position due to racial or ethnic origin, skin color, sex, age, health condition, i.e. invalidity, religious, political or other conviction, trade union membership, national or social origin, family status, property status, sexual orientation or due to other personal circumstances.
MPM’s contracts are also opposed to Article 8, which particularizes the fundamental values of the constitutional order where the fundamental guarantied rights and freedoms are stated, as well as to the Articles 16 and 17 from the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, which particularize that:
The freedom of personal conviction, conscience, thought and public expression of thought is guaranteed. The freedom of speech, public address, public information and the establishment of institutions for public information is guaranteed. Free access to information and the freedom of reception and transmission of information are guaranteed. The right of reply via the mass media is guaranteed. The right to a correction in the mass media is guaranteed. The right to protect a source of information in the mass media is guaranteed. Censorship is prohibited. (Article 16)
The freedom and confidentiality of correspondence and other forms of communication is guaranteed. Only a court decision may authorize non-application of the principle of the inviolability of the confidentiality of correspondence and other forms of communication, in cases where it is indispensable to a criminal investigation or required in the interests of the defence of the Republic. (Article 17)
The Association of Journalists of Macedonia have also expressed their reaction on the occasion of MPM’s latest move. AJM’s president, Naser Selmani, also points out that the contracts severely violate the Law on Labor Relations and emphasizes that AJM will demand a meeting with MPM’s management in order to “clarify the situation”.
“Also, we will send a missive to the Labor Inspection with which will notify them about the received allegations and we will demand an insight of the contracts offered to journalists for signing. I encourage the colleagues not to sign such contracts. I suggest them to keep every sample of the contract if a future court investigation is initiated”, says Selmani.
AJM will state its final opinion after the insight and after the meetings with MPM’s management.
IF THE JOURNALISTS DON’T HAVE FREEDOM ON THE INTERNET, THEN WHAT’S THE FREEDOM IN NEWSPAPERS LIKE?
According to the journalist Zharko Jordanoski, deputy editor in chief of Sloboden Pechat daily, the information that MPM has limited its journalists’ use of public networks and expression of political views is one more evidence about the entire non-freedom and censorship reigning in this publishing house, and throughout Macedonia too.
“This is another brutal, open degradation of journalists and demolition of their professional integrity, if there’s anything left to say about it. When Facebook and Twitter are being censored, we can only imagine their freedom for expression of their views inside, in their medium? The entire Macedonian journalism is one sad story, but MPM’s is especially tragic. Especially Dnevnik daily, a newspaper that reminds me of pleasant memories, because I was a part of its creation and it was the place where I spent my most fruitful and most beautiful years in my journalistic career”, emphasizes Jordanoski.
What’s happening there, he says, is below every professional and human dignity that cannot be justified by no “salaries and gains” and other privileges.
According to the journalist Zoran Bojarovski a great danger shall emerge if the issue on managing the freedom of the employed media workers is separated into two non-linked parts: the professional one, which on the first glance, is linked to the time spent on the workplace and with the private part, which is mainly linked to the time spent outside the workplace and work tasks.
“Without entering into details due to the absurdity of one such separation, I will emphasize that if the debate goes in that direction, it will be spent on the inane argues and cavils that the time for break is a private time, that the private phones are private devices, unlike the company’s computers which “must not be misused for expressing private political views…”. Do you see where this nitpicking type is headed? It is headed in direction of defocusing from the main reason for implementing such monstrous, autocratic intention in order to discourage the freedom and right of political affiliation and the right of free expression of political affiliation”, states Bojarovski.
He emphasizes that by vulgarly formalizing the need of legal regulation of the employers’ rights, the initiators of these contracts can surely find legal “curves” to impose such employment contracts.
“But, that definitely puts them to the side of those media that have “servant-like” managing and editing teams which defend and promote the political regime that halted the democracy in this country and which annul the freedoms upon all grounds for several civil categories, which in any way, directly or indirectly, are being threatened and intimidated”, specifies Bojarovski.
This journalistic lesson was created within the framework of the USAID Media Strengthening in Macedonia Project - Media Fact-Checking Service Component,, mplemented by Metamorphosis. The journalistic lesson is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, USAID or the United States Government. For more information on the work of USAID in Macedonia please visit its website (http://macedonia.usaid.gov) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/USAIDMacedonia).