Norway’s national commercial television channel, TV2, is facing what’s being called the largest round of layoffs to ever hit a Norwegian media company. Legal challenges have warded off some, but nearly 200 journalists and other staffers are losing their jobs as TV2 aims to save NOK 350 million by 2020.
The crisis peaked last week, when the national journalists’ union NJ (Norsk Journalistlag) beefed up its legal resources to help targeted workers. Two TV2 employees who’d been told they were redundant won’t lose their jobs after all, after management was faced with court action to halt what were deemed to be improper firings.
In another case, a union leader was among those told there was no room for her in TV2’s new organization. That has led to protests from the union itself, which faced having members on staff at TV2 with no in-house representative.
All journalists have basically had to re-apply for their jobs, with even TV2 veterans and celebrities undergoing rounds of interviews in which they’re asked to clarify their strengths and weaknesses. “This is a very demanding situation, first and foremost for all employees,” NJ leader Thomas Spence told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), which, like most media outlets in Norway has also had its own rounds of staff-cutting. Most of it, however, has been accomplished through attrition, early retirements and offers of severance packages, not layoffs.
“This is definitely the largest cutbacks of editorial employees at a Norwegian media firm ever,” NJ lawyer Ketil Heyerdahl told DN. He and others were standing by to assist those facing redundancy.