news 23 Feb 12

Strikers on Serbia's TV Avala Claim Victory

Following a strike of 65 days, jubilant staff have resumed normal service after management finally paid three months' unpaid wages and pledged to repay the rest they owe by April 1.

Bojana Barlovac

Staffers at Serbia's TV Avala were getting ready on Thursday to throw a party to celebrate the successful end of their marathon strike over unpaid salaries.

Normal production has now resumed after 65 days of strikes. This came after the management finally payed staff three overdue monthly salaries and promised to pay the remaining two by April 1.

"The employees have decided to end the strike following the promise they have been given and in appreciation of the stance that director and editor-in-chief Dusan Pancic has shown towards the employees," a statement on Wednesday said.

Since December 22, the premises of Avala have been largely empty and the broadcaster has been operating at a minimum level.

Live programmes stopped that day while a box in the corner of the screen has been counting the days since the strike began.

The Ministry for Culture and Media did not intervene in the case as it maintained that Avala's financial problems did not fall under its jurisdiction. The state broadcasting agency, RRA, has held a few meetings with the station's owners.

TV Avala began broadcasting in 2006, after obtaining a national frequency, but it has faced financial problems for years.

The broadcaster's financial records for 2010, which Balkan Insight has obtained, show that the station that year owed €25.7 million in short-term loans, services and credits while its income for that year was only €2.6 million.

The current ownership structure consists of businessman Danko Djunic, who owns 45.65 per cent, Austrian company Greenberg Invest, which owns 48.41 per cent, media mogul Zeljko Mitrovic, who owns 4.95 per cent and the Economic Institute, which has 0.99 per cent.

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