Journalists at Slovenian public broadcaster RTV Slovenija will stage a one-day strike on Monday in the latest escalation of tensions between staff and leadership over staffing and programming changes that their trade union says have been politically motivated.
Their main demands include full editorial independence, a return to social dialogue, and the scrapping of the plan to create two separate news programmes, each with its own editor-in-chief and staff, that have been decried as an attempt to create separate pro-government and pro-opposition news programmes.
Journalist Helena Milinković, the coordinator for four trade union chapters at RTV Slovenija, has described the situation as a show of solidarity with the staff at the news programme, “who are being prevented by the management and programme leadership from working in line with professional standards.”
If their demands are not met by the end of the month, they will demand the resignation of Director General Andrej Grah Whatmough, the Head of the Programme Council Peter Gregorčič, and two recently appointed editors who have been accused of botching the broadcaster’s election campaign coverage and proximity to the outgoing conservative government.
The action means the bulk of news programming today will be dedicated to the strike. While it may be a one-day strike, it will not end after Monday (23 May). Instead, it will formally continue while the journalists continue working their usual hours, at least until the end of the month.
Journalists at RTV Slovenija have been at loggerheads with the leadership for a long time. Still, tensions escalated after new pro-government appointments at the end of last year to the Programme Council, which is in charge of content decisions, and a series of ensuing staffing and content decisions that have been criticised by programme creators and experts alike as politically motivated.
Illustrating the new Programme Council’s role, a video leaked recently of a councillor close to the governing Democrats (SDS) explaining at an SDS event how the 21 newly appointed councillors “work as one” to push party interests, how they communicate their wishes directly to an editor, and how they were making sure new hires are “the right people.”
The SDS has long claimed that the public broadcaster is leftist and needs to be “balanced.”