Telework raises many questions from journalists to their union/association
The pandemic was obviously the occasion for journalists to raise the issue of telework and home office with their union/association, even if the practice existed already before, at a smaller scale. To the question “Has your organisation been receiving requests from journalists related to teleworking/home-office?”, unions/associations provided very diverse feedback.
We realised that teleworking was a big problem for some [journalists]” reported the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro (SMCG). The union in Cyprus reported that “the requests are mainly related to overtime work and work during holidays”. In Croatia, “members were interested in what are the obligations of the employer in the case of working from home, whether the employer is obliged to provide equipment and pay additional costs. [The union] set these requirements, but there is no example that any employer has met them”. In Portugal also, “the main reasons for requests from the union was the provision of IT equipment and communications from the company, and the right to disconnect”. In Serbia, one of the topics was the conditionality of telework (compulsory or voluntary), when an “employer forced a journalist to work from home, she thought that she was discriminated against because only a few people were sent to work from home”.
In Germany, questions were focusing on the practical matters such as “how to ask for financial support for computers and computer programs” and in Finland also journalists asked detailed questions such as “what to pay attention to when negotiating telecommuting agreements, how employers should take care of ergonomics and home office (display, desktop, office chair) equipment and what are the conditions of accident insurance while teleworking”.
In some countries such as Sweden, journalists are also asking “questions about returning to the workplace”.
Several countries (Estonia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, North Macedonia and Kosovo) did not report any specific requests.

Good practice: in Turkey, a campaign launched by the journalists’ union after Covid-19 doubled the number of collective agreements in media companies

Since the pandemic broke out, the Turkish union of journalists TGS has called all employers to implement teleworking to protect media workers. The union has called for adequate occupational health and safety measures, especially for reporters who have to work in the field. In March 2020, the union organised a web page[1] to inform employees about their legal rights. In March 2021, the union published a report covering the impact of the pandemic and teleworking. Problems reported by employees were similar to other countries, such as an increase in their workloads at home, rise of unpaid overtime during teleworking, a decrease or cut of the lunch voucher payment and inadequate occupational health and safety measures both in workplaces and telework.
After publishing the report, the union announced a “Telework Guideline” which sets out key principles and conditions to ensure the decent working conditions of journalists
  1. 1.
    Regulations on teleworking should be in line with ILO standards.
  2. 2.
    Teleworking should be organised on a voluntary basis.
  3. 3.
    There should be no discrimination among workers employed remotely or in the workplace regarding promotion, training, economic and social benefits.
  4. 4.
    Employers should guarantee decent and fair working conditions for remote workers.
  5. 5.
    Employers should show respect for the collective rights of remote workers.
  6. 6.
    Working hours and breaking times should clearly be determined within the limits of the law.
  7. 7.
    Employers should respect the “right to disconnect” regarding the working hours.
  8. 8.
    In case of overtime working, remote workers should continue to receive payment in line with the labour act.
  9. 9.
    Employers should support adequate equipment required for teleworking. Expenses related to teleworking (electric, water, gas, mobile phone, internet bill and so on) should be included in the agreement.
  10. 10.
    Employers should continue to take responsibility for occupational health and safety measures for remote workers.
  11. 11.
    Employers should respect the right to privacy for remote workers. They should limit the activities of the monitoring tools used for business purposes.
  12. 12.
    Employers should adequately inform remote workers about cyber security and provide them with relevant software before starting teleworking.
This active approach was successful: before the pandemic broke out, TGS had only 7 Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) in the sector: Reuters News Agency, Evrensel Newspaper, 9 Eylül Newspaper, Gazete Duvar, Bianet, Yön Radio and Refinitiv. Thanks to this campaign, the union has managed to gain the majority in 7 new media outlets (BBC, AFP, AP, Cumhuriyet, İz Gazete, Halk TV and Dokuz 8 Haber) from August 2020 until May 2021.
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