The International Federation of Journalists today accused Agence France Presse, one of the world’s leading news agencies, of “bad faith, greed and breathtaking arrogance” after it closed its office in Caracas and sacked the workforce in the middle of talks to establish a new contract.
“The company has been making a fine profit out of its staff, but now it is finally reneging on deals that it has obstinately refused to honour,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It is absurd for the company to sacrifice this office.”
The IFJ says that 8 journalists have lost their jobs after the Paris management closed down the Caracas office, the third largest of the AFP bureaux in the region.
The local union, the IFJ affiliated Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa (SNTP), says the company’s action breaches the Venezuelan constitution.
The union says the company has 30 clients in the country who have contributed around 400,000$ US this year to the company, but its staff have struggled since March to get the company to agree even a minimal increase in pay and limited job security. The collective agreement has not been renewed for ten years and over that time the clause that guarantees pay increases in line with inflation has been ignored.
Then, without warning, came the news of the shutdown. At the same time, the company has in an internal statement, said it will maintain client agreements on print and photograph coverage in Venezuela by rotating foreign Spanish-speaking correspondents working in Latin America.
“The company’s approach demonstrates bad faith, greed and breathtaking arrogance in equal measure,” said White. “We fully support our SNTP colleagues in their commitment to fight this closure. It is unacceptable for companies to fire workers in this way.”
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries