Croacia - Journalists right to strike undermined (2012)

Members of the Trade Union of Journalists employed by Croatia’s largest circulation daily, Večernji list, in Zagreb, owned by the Austrian Styria Media Group, went on strike on 23 March, following the employer’s refusal to sign a new collective agreement. The management hired security guards and locked the entrance to the company on the day the strike began, preventing workers from holding their strike at the workplace. The management also requested each worker to individually state if he/she was on strike or not, and hired freelance journalists to replace workers on strike.

During a strike organised at the local daily Glas Istre, in Pula, in November 2010, the judge of the County Court in Pula Ondina Vidulić Matijević ruled that the production of a newspaper is an activity that cannot be terminated during a strike and issued a back to work order for 20 workers, thus effectively restricting the right to strike for remaining journalists who subsequently had to terminate the strike. In a subsequent hearing at the County Court in Zagreb, the court retroactively annulled the original ruling, stating it has not only significantly limited, but rendered impossible, the right to strike, and as such was legally unfounded. Although without effect for the strike in Glas Istre, the decision could be significant for future journalists’ strikes, as it clearly stated it is unacceptable to issue back to work order in the media insofar as it would undermine the right to strike.

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