Syndicat de journalistes CGT - section de l’Agence France-Presse

Agence France-Presse Branch of the French National CGT Journalists' Union (SNJ-CGT)


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Louette to AFP Staff: 
Work Harder, Get Less Pay!

 

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Meeting with HQ trade unions this week for the compulsory annual talks on HQ staff wages, CEO Pierre Louette chose to hide behind the owners of the French national press in refusing any across-the-board wage rises for either the rest of this year or the first six months of 2009.

At the same time he announced that he was doubling next year’s budget for the annual bonus and promotions awards, doled out each March. Big deal. Not only is the "primes et promotions" budget particularly modest, so doubling it will not make much difference, but it is also patently inequitable. Everyone knows that bonuses and promotions do not necessarily go to those who most need them, and particularly not to the growing numbers of AFP staff with low incomes and insecure labour contracts.

All of this is happening at a time when Mr. Louette, at the request of the French government, is working on changes which would destroy the statutes which underpin our company’s independence, and bring in other inequities such as a staff shareholding scheme.

Meanwhile the CEO has also informed us that retiring or departing staff will no longer necessarily be replaced by new hires, just when management is continually making new demands on all of us, with new tasks and new services resulting in ever-longer working hours.

Surely a management which is continually wheeling out new products - some of them, such as the US-based "Newzwag" subsidiary, extremely costly ones - should not at the same time be asking its staff - and particularly the least well-paid and the least secure among them - to be tightening their belts! At the statutory wage talks, the joint unions had agreed on a basic demand - modest, to say the least - for an across-the-board bonus of 100 euros a month for all HQ status staff, in addition to the raises negotiated at branch level with the French National Daily Press Syndicat (SPQN).

The latter increases have amounted to a mere 1.8% for the whole of 2008, and a third of that was in fact a catch-up raise for the previous year! Which means that for a year in which inflation is likely to top 3% in France, our pay will have risen by no more than 1.2% in cash terms.

ALL OF WHICH ADDS UP TO A LOSS OF 1.5% IN REAL TAKE-HOME PAY!

Now, to add insult to injury, the French press barons have said they are freezing talks on pay rises in the first half of next year. As Mr. Louette has told us he will not go beyond their position as regards our wages, he seems determined to make us swallow the same bitter potion in 2009.

Conclusion: We must mobilise not only to defend AFP’s independence, but also our wages, and tomorrow maybe our very jobs!

SNJ-CGT-AFP, Thursday December 11, 2008

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