Egypt: News website fires 85 journalists without notice or compensation

The online private news website Dotmsr unlawfully dismissed 85 journalists on Wednesday 20 July effective immediately. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the decision that breaches international labour standards. Dotmsr was recently bought out by Ahmed Abou Hashima, a media mogul in the region, after the previous owner was unable to meet salary demands. Hashima’s first act as Dotmsr chair was to fire 105 media workers, 85 of which were journalists, in an attempt to cut expenses. In the wake of Hashima’s decision, the private news company is left with three less managing editors and approximately 25 journalists. Dotmsr says it will only pay the salaries of the journalists fired for the 19 days they worked in July. The dismissal order will be implemented effective immediately. The journalists fired are filing a complaint with the Egyptian Labour Bureau and a complaint with the Press Syndicate for their arbitrary dismissal. They plan to organise a sit-in at the newspaper headquarters to protest against Hashima’s decision. The incident is not new for Dotmsr. In 2014, 75 journalists were dismissed without notice. The Labour Bureau helped ensure that their salaries were paid out in full after the website delayed on compensation. The lack of respect by Egypt of international labour standards has led the IFJ to alert the International Labour office (ILO) in the past. In June of 2015, the IFJ convened in Tunisia and, amongst other topics, discussed how to support Egyptian journalists in the face of deteriorating working conditions. The IFJ denounced the fragile working conditions under which journalists are contracted in Egypt, the loss of jobs and the arbitrary dismissal of journalists in the print media sector that has put hundreds of journalists on the dole in the past.  Philippe Leruth, IFJ President, said: ‘The termination of 85 journalists' contracts by Dotmsr is unlawful and continues to undermine journalists' working conditions in Egypt. The International Labour Standards on Employment Security, which Egypt has ratified, stipulate that workers must be given advanced warning and proper severance pay in the case of mass dismissals. We urge Dotmsr to give their workers the respect and the salaries that they are owed under Egyptian and international labour law.’

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