News / 10.03.2011

Journalists becoming employment agency workers

When asked of his opinion about the plans of his employers, Kari Pyrhönen, president of radio and television programme workers union in MTV3, had this to say: “Recruitment agencies are not good for journalists and not good for journalism. Do we really want that we become temporary workers like in other sectors? There is already bad experience from elsewhere. Human beings are not valued and workers’ employment situation is very precarious”.

According to Pyrhönen, with the decision to transfer journalists to recruitment agencies, MTV3 wants to absolve itself from the legal responsibilities of an employer towards future workers and pass them instead onto hiring agencies. “From there they can conveniently acquire workers and don’t have to worry about the their employment status issues”, he said

According to Chief Editor of MTV3 Merja Ylä-Anttila, journalists of recruitment agencies in principle can work with other television channels anytime MTV3 has no job for them. However, Pyrhönen says it is an ethical issue whether journalistic work can actually be outsourced to other agencies. “Those working with MTV3 want to be identified with the station and it is important from a quality perspective, that the employer should also be mentally committed”.

According to the Journalisti newspaper, TV4 which has been acquired along with MTV3 by Swedish Bonnier concern is about to transfer workers to recruitment agencies. The Swedish state broadcaster SVT is planning similar steps.

But Pyrhönen says the example is not taken from Sweden. Rather the employers have had categorical instructions that there should no longer be an increase in the number of permanent staff and, extra workforce can be conveniently “hidden” in recruitment firms. It still makes the financial figures look good.

“It is sad that such decisions are taken. There should be an encouragement to regularize the position of temporary workers. But the Swedish owners want high results. In spite of that MTV3 is still a good firm which has good preconditions to become even better. It is the leading entertainment house but it can also become a leading news broadcast station”, says Pyrhönen a cultural journalist with twenty experience with the commercial channel.

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