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: snj@snj.fr
SNJ-CGT: snj@cgt.fr