OF CYPRUS JOURNALISTS
History, achievements, problems, targets and prospects
the establishment of a professional organisation of the press family
of Cyprus in the form of a trade union organisation started in the early
1930's but for a long time they had no practical result due to insurmountable
objective and subjective difficulties.
and fruitful effort was made in 1959 with the termination of the British
colonial rule of the island, year of the establishment of the Republic
of Cyprus in 1960. That same year the Union of Cyprus Journalists was
members were 27 and all worked as professional journalists in a daily
and several weekly newspapers. The Union had a seven-member committee:
President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and three councillors.
The aims and
targets were clear: To strengthen and safeguard the freedom of the press,
to defend the right to free expression and opinion, to protect the independence,
freedoms and rights of journalists, to improve their professional position
and to regulate the conditions of their employment through a collective
agreement, to raise the standard of journalism and to train journalists.
To exclude any dependence of the Union on political parties or any other
dependence, with the right of its equal cooperation with the unions
of journalists of other countries, regional and international organisations,
the guideline being always the principles of its charter and its aims.
of the struggles and efforts of the Union of Cyprus Journalists have
been many and notable. We set them out in brief:
1. Collective Agreement
A collective agreement the Union signed, from the first years of its
establishment, with the Association of Publishers of Newspapers and
Periodicals, regulated the conditions of employment of all professional
journalists working in the print press. The agreement, renewed and improved
every two or three years, secures to journalists:
• Salary scales from 650 to more than 2000 Cyprus pounds (1100 to more
than 4000 US dollars) as monthly emoluments, with annual increases proportionate
to the increase in productivity in the national economy and automatic
cost of living readjustments twice a year (January and July) on the
basis of the cost index increase.
• An extra salary at the end of the year.
• An annual rest allowance equivalent to half the monthly gross emoluments
of the journalist.
• A night shift allowance.
• A provident fund, with the employer contributing 7% of the journalist’s
total emoluments and the journalist contributing 4.5%. The amounts of
money accumulated in the fund are no subject to taxation and are paid
to the journalist on his/her retirement.
• A Medical Treatment Fund with a 1.90% contribution by the employer
and 1.15% by the journalist. This Fund secures medical-pharmaceutical
cover to the Union’s members and their dependents.
• A five-day working week with a total of 40 hours of work (this number
is theoretical because the reality is that journalists work more hours).
• Twenty to twenty-eight days rest annually.
• Payment for Sunday work twice the normal pay.
• Fifteen days-holiday annually.
2. Supplementary Pension Scheme
It has been in force since the early 1980's providing to 30 retired
journalists and to their widows a monthly grant which ranges from 50
to 120 Cyprus pounds (100 to 240 US dollars). The revenue for the Scheme
comes from the annual lottery organised by the Union of Journalists
and from a state grant provided in return for the publicity given by
the local press to the state lottery and the state bonds.
3. Journalists’ Village
This was created on a coastal site, six kilometres from Larnaca International
Airport, on land provided to the Union Cyprus Journalists by the state,
with help of private organisations and part of the proceeds from the
annual lottery of journalists. It consists of 14 houses (6 with two
bedrooms and 8 with one bedroom), fully equipped, a multiple use hall
used as cafeteria-restaurant , a conference Hall, a grocery, children’s
playground and sports area. The Journalists’ Village is used round the
year for the rest of journalists and their families at special prices.
Journalists from other countries can also use the village, again at
4. House of Journalists
A large and extremely important project of the Union of Cyprus Journalists
is ready in Nicosia. This is the Journalists’ House. It is a great building
which houses the offices of the Union, the Sports and Writers Associations,
the Athens News Agency, the Cyprus Media Complaints Commission, the
Museum and Archives of Cyprus Press, a Conference Hall with a capacity
of about 320 persons, a library, a cafe-restaurant and spaces for other
5. Press Rights and Freedoms
The question of freedom of the press is always in the focus of attention
of the Union of Cyprus Journalists. As a result of its efforts and cooperation,
in various cases, with the Association of Publishers, the press legislation
has been liberalised to a large extent through the abolition of a series
of illiberal provisions and the introduction of liberal provisions such
as the safeguarding of press confidentiality and the recognition, yet
only in theory, of the right to access to the sources of information-state
and private ones. Nevertheless, various illiberal clauses still remain
in the criminal code whilst the public service law establishes confidentiality
as a rule with regard to state documents, limiting access to information
and the citizens’ right to unobstructed information.
The Union of
Cyprus Journalists insists on the elimination of all these illiberal
provisions and the full safeguarding of the rights and, real clearness
and pluralism in the media, print and electronic, and the journalists’
independence to carry out their mission. To this end it supports the
enactment of a modern and liberal legislation on the press and radio-television,
the protection and support of public broadcasting and television, the
functioning of private broadcasting and the combating of any tendency
towards, and danger of medial concentration and oligopoly.
The Union of
Cyprus Journalists is represented in the Radio- Television Advisory
Committee and the Administrative Council of the Cyprus News Agency and
in various cases it is invited to parliamentary committees to express
its views when matters that concern the media are discussed. Through
this practice the Union contributes positively and practically to the
strengthening and effective protection of the rights and freedoms of
the press and journalists.
Moreover, the Union of Cyprus Journalists has made a continuous and
consistent effort for the introduction of an Ethics Code and the establishment
of a Press Code of conduct Committee made up by representatives of journalists
and the media owners, which will ensure observance of, and compliance
with, the code. The Committee was established and is functioning since
some years ago. The Union has formally adopted the Declaration of Principles
of the International Federation of Journalists and was included in its
Constitution as a binding provision, along with supplementary provision
in accordance to practices in force and acceptable by other national
Unions of Journalists, and the establishment of a Rules and Ethics Committee
with special responsibility to watch over the compliance with the principles
and rules of the ethics code.
7. Violation of trade union rights
One of the most serious problems faced by the Union of Cyprus Journalists
during the last years has been the refusal of the electronic media owners
to accept collective negotiations and a collective agreement on the
conditions of employment of journalists working in this media. This
constitutes a flagrant violation of fundamental trade union rights and
freedoms, and the Union of Journalists is accelerating its efforts for
its termination and ensuring compliance of the owners of the electronic
Media with the provision of the Law on Private Broadcasting obliging
them to bargain with the Journalists’ Union and regulate the conditions
of employment of journalists on the basis of a collective agreement.
8. For the reunification of Cyprus
The Union of Cyprus Journalists is seeking in every possible manner
to develop contacts, relations and cooperation with the associations
of the Turkish Cypriot Journalists. Such contacts have taken place with
the help of the UN representatives in the island, but the effort is
being impeded by the insurmountable obstacles being placed and the partitionist
policy being pursued by the regime controlled by the Turkish army –
and preventing the free movement of people all over the island. This
is denial of fundamental human rights and abolition of basic freedoms
of the press and journalists as well as of the other citizens of the
The Union of Cyprus Journalists cannot remain indifferent to this unacceptable
state of affairs and is contributing to the efforts for the re-unification
of the island and the safeguarding of the rights and freedoms of the
entire people of Cyprus, both Greeks and Turks as well as other nationalities,
on the basis of international law and the UN and E.U. principles and
9. Other activities
The Union Cyprus Journalists:
• Develops relations and has cooperation with other trade union organisations
of the country, particularly printing workers and other sister branches
of working people in the Media in regard to common problems and aims.
• Organises seminars on professional subjects.
• Holds cultural and other social events and organises public discussions
and competitions on media-related subjects.
• Publishes books connected with journalism or subsidises the publication
of such books by journalists.
• Is an active member of the International and the European Federation
of Journalists, maintains relations with a number of Unions of Journalists
and expresses its solidarity in many cases of persecution of journalists
and violation of the freedom of the press in the world.
10. Membership and structure of the Union
At the end of 2004 Union of Cyprus Journalists has about 430 members
(of which about 140 women). It practically embraces all the professional
journalists of the country employed in newspapers, periodicals, the
radio and the television and the news agencies of the island. The journalists
working in public broadcasting are at the same time members of the Trade
Union to which their entire staffs belongs. Eligible to join the Union
of Cyprus Journalists are professional journalists, regardless of ethnic
origin, race and religion, provided they work in the local media, gain
their means of live hood mainly from journalism and have at least six
months service in the profession. Foreign journalists working in Cyprus
can become members of the Union as an autonomous entity with their own
Committee of the Union consists of nine members (President, Vice-President,
Secretary, Treasurer and five Councillors) and is elected at every third
annual general meeting of the members. The annual membership fee is
0,5% of the monthly salary of the member. There are local committees
of journalists at the places of work which are elected during meetings
of the staff of each Media, deal with local problems and constitute
the liaison with the Executive Committee of the organisation.