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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2009 Electoral Platform

 

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The 2009 elections, which renew the official staff delegates and the works committee, are taking place at a time when the survival of AFP as we have known it is hanging in the balance.

Whether we be journalists, technicians, administrative or white-collar staff we have all, in our own fields, contributed to making this company one of only a handful of worldwide news agencies, and the only one that does not originate in the English-speaking world.

Today the company’s independence is seriously threatened by a plan to annul the statutes which have protected it since its birth.

Not forgetting the new Aims and Means Contract (COM) with the French government, which constitutes an assault on the agency’s editorial principles, its information missions and last but not least its staff.

For years the CGT National Journalists’ Union (SNJ-CGT) has been fighting at all levels within the company, and on the various official negotiating bodies, to defend the agency’s staff.

Today our union remains on the front lines to defend AFP.

Even if you have never voted in the in-house elections in the past, you should do so this year. Every vote counts!

The candidates who are seeking your votes under the SNJ-CGT banner (see list on this site) come from all sectors of the agency. They already have a deep fund of collective experience.

Among the gains of the past two years, the SNJ-CGT has:

  • continued to defend staff, pushing forward on many fronts including the rights of both text and photo freelancers as well as local, regional and HQ status journalists; fought to improve working conditions and to win full-status contracts for people on short-term contracts, etc.;
  • worked to defend AFP’s bureau network throughout France, where management is threatening disastrous cuts;
  • defended our journalistic ethics and independence by fighting management’s costly and damaging editorial plans, such as the "Deadline" game on Facebook, the undermining of our profession via so-called citizen journalism and the relentless trend towards ever-more frothy "people" stories, most recently via the "Relaxnews" service;
  • proposed, set up and organised the "WWW.SOS-AFP.ORG" online petition, which at the time of writing was approaching 13,000 signatures "for the independence and survival of Agence France-Presse";
  • acted as the motive force in proposing and getting adopted an "official alert" via the Works Committee, so that your elected representatives can obtain all the required information about the sinister plans being hatched by both management and the French government.

On All Fronts

Over the coming weeks and months the CGT journalists’ union will again be battling on all fronts, in particular to prevent the destruction of our company.

Even on the technical level, the plans being hatched by Pierre Louette are threatening.

This CEO, who is far from having proven his ability to make the right choices in the complex world of news on the Internet, is seeking to plunge us into an "all-multimedia" system which he presents as a self-evident necessity.

In fact the roads he is taking us down are very far from being self-evident in the world economic crisis we are now living through, as it is by no means certain that the high-tech sector will avoid a new meltdown.

In addition to the plan to break the statutes which guarantee our independence, there are the swingeing cuts called for by the new Aims and Means Contract, which include:

  • staffing cuts, probably accompanied by a fully-fledged redundancy plan;
  • cuts in the overall wages bill, via reduced wages, staffing and benefits;
  • the closure of services deemed to be "non-strategic and unprofitable";
  • "slimming down and even dismantling" any "facilities which no longer correspond to the needs of newsgathering";
  • the transformation of our existing desks into multimedia units, in some cases working via "translation partnerships" which could easily make us into little more than content aggregators;
  • a possible move away from our existing headquarters building on the pretext that it may not be compatible with future technical arrangements.
Etc. The above list, alas, is by no means exhaustive.

Each time AFP has been threatened by a major crisis, the solution has come from a resolute staff mobilisation.

The threat has never been so great as it is today.

Which is why, between March 9 and April 9 and preferably right from March 9, it is essential that all eligible staff voters take part in the elections, which represent a basic democratic right.

Don’t Forget to Vote - and to Vote SNJ-CGT!

First and foremost, everyone must vote; a high turnout is essential to give us strength for the struggles that lay ahead.

And needless to say, journalists should vote for the SNJ-CGT!

As long as any situation can be resolved via negotiations, our union is above all in favour of talking.

But there are also situations which require more muscular methods of struggle.

For the SNJ-CGT there is no room for negotiation around some woolly new dispensation involving alleged "guarantees" of respect for Article Two of our statutes, which underpins our independence.

Our union has clearly stated that we will not be able to avoid a tough fight involving a labour stoppage to ensure that reason finally prevails.

The French government and the CEO must withdraw their project!

As of March 9th vote for the SNJ-CGT; vote for the independence and survival of Agence France-Presse !

See also: Our candidate lists