The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have strongly backed the call of their Spanish affiliates for new negotations to take place between the management and staff at the regional public TV channel, Telemadrid.
In January 2013, the board of the channel took the decision to make 861 staff (journalists and media workers) redundant, a step that reduced the channel’s employees by nearly 80 per cent.
But a Spanish Supreme Court on Wednesday, 26 March, ruled that the decision to reduce the number of employees was “not according to the rule of law.” Surprisingly however, the court ruled that the redundancies should stand, but said Madrid’s regional government, which owns the channel, should markedly increase the compensation given to those people who were made redundant.
Cristina Bermejo, a member of IFJ/EFJ affiliate, the Federación de Servicios a la Ciudadanía (FSC-CCOO) who is among those made redundant by the channel, has stated: “The dismissals are absolutely disproportionate and put the future viability of Telemadrid at great risk.”
IFJ/EFJ’s Spanish affiliates, the FeSP (the Federation of Journalists Unions), FAPE (the Federation of Journalists Associations), and FSC-CCOO, have campaigned tirelessly over the last year and a half, demonstrating every week in Madrid city centre in front of the office of Ignacio Gonzalez, president of the conservative government.
Gonzalez had threatened to close the channel on several occasions if the court refused completely to accept the staff reduction at the channel.
“We are deeply worried because the public broadcasting system in Spain has already received a big hit with the recent closing of another public regional channel in Valencia,” said IFJ President, Jim Boumelha. “We will continue to support our affiliates as they fight to defend strong and politically independent public broadcasting in Spain.”
According to media reports, the Telemadrid case has come about because of bad management and manipulation from editors and managers linked to the region’s conservative government. Ignacio Gonzalez is frequently mentioned by the media in relation with several economic scandals, but he has refused to resign.
“We support our affiliates in their demand for renewed negotiations”, said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. “Telemadrid should be absolutely independent and viable”.
IFJ/EFJ’s Spanish affiliates have stated that the journalists and employees of Telemadrid are ready to negotiate their labour conditions, including the reappointment of part of the dismissed staff, so that the social and economic viability of Telemadrid as a public independent channel can be rebuilt.
For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries