France: Call for solidarity for Action day on 19 March

The morale has been rather low in the media over the last month : the crisis has hit hard the industry which is supposed to be democracy's  watchdog.

Restructurings are taking place, sometimes with «friendly arrangements »  with the unions. The media employers are still looking for increasing profits in a context of economic recession and President Sarkozy is interfering in media policy like no other president since decades.

The participating trade unions (SNJ, SNJ-CGT, USJ-CFDT, SGJ-FO, CFTC and CGC Journalists' Trade Unions) call on all journalists to mobilise for the national day of a general strike and demonstrations planned for March 19, on the following themes:

- Defend jobs in both the public and private sectors: halt sackings and job cuts

For several months now we have seen increasing numbers of company closures, redundancy plans, early retirement and other job-cutting schemes in the media sector. The coming year is set to bring even worse news: at least 900 jobs are threatened in the state-run France Télévisions group, 170 at Radio France Internationale, 50 in the Express-Roularta magazine group, similar numbers at both the M6 private TV company and the Nice Matin daily, 30 at Prisma Presse - and there are even more cuts on the horizon!

- Fight increasing labour precarity, combat social and economic deregulation

At least 20% of all French journalists are now employed under short-term or freelance contracts or other non-permanent arrangements. In 2008 warning lights began flashing when no less than four out of  every 10 new French press cards issued were to people who did not have stable employment. A quarter of all journalists in the country are now either on short-term or freelance contracts, or unemployed. - Demand that our labour agreements maintain purchasing power and reduce inequality for wage-earners, the unemployed and pensioners. After having imposed cuts in our purchasing power for several years running, the employers' union of the French national daily press (PQN), as well as that of news magazines (SPMI) have already announced total wage freezes for the coming period. The situation of many journalists, some of whom now earn less than the legal monthly minimum wage, is going to get even worse.

- Defend the overall collective framework of social protection and solidarity (mainly health and pensions entitlements)

- Maintain public interest in quality information services  

The French government is dismantling the public television service, which is being deprived of sustainable funding and risks losing its editorial independence through the appointment of its top management  by the President. There are also moves afoot to change the statutes of Agence France-Presse. These are unacceptable attacks on both the quality and the pluralism of information and democracy which come on the top of the plan to dismantle the part of our national journalists' collective agreement concerning the public TV service. This could lead to a complete unravelling of the overall "convention collective" agreement, which is essential for journalists working under French labour laws.

The EFJ supports its French affiliates for their national day of strikes and protests on Thursday!

Messages of solidarity can be sent to:
SNJ: [email protected]
SNJ-CGT: [email protected]