Agence France-Presse Branch of the French National CGT Journalists' Union (SNJ-CGT)
Company Statutes, Wages, Jobs: GENERAL CALL TO ACTION!
On Thursday March 19, a day of national strike action in France, a good 100 AFP staffers provided a combative and colourful presence at the main trade union march in Paris. It was an unprecedented turnout, and one which will need to be amplified and broadened in the days and weeks to come.
For it is precisely in these last days of the month that Pierre Louette is due to hand in his reform project for our company’s founding statutes to the government. An adventure justified by what is claimed to be a "multimedia revolution" but which in fact is more in the nature of a gadget than a fully thought-out project. And an adventure which M. Louette wants push through while at the same time slashing our jobs and freezing our salaries.
On staffing, the SNJ-CGT union will make no concessions. Already many AFP services are only able to operate thanks to people brought in on short-term contracts, but who find themselves doing jobs that require full status labour agreements. The resulting lack of economic security is unacceptable.
As regards the 1957 law which defines AFP’s statutes, we have already stated that there can be no compromise! Faced with the clear intention of the current French government to privatise everything in sight and to give ever more generous handouts to private firms while finding only small change for wage-earners, any other attitude on our part would be suicidal.
We will not be fobbed off with a few high-sounding phrases supposed to preserve our independence on paper, and even less with some kind of "trust" of "foundation" imported from abroad. If such measures were to be brought in nothing would protect us from a future privatisation, or even from being turned into a state news agency with a CEO appointed directly by the French president.
As soon as the details of Louette’s plan have been made public, the SNJ-CGT will consult with the other trade unions to decide on a practical course of action. We have already warned staff that whatever action we take will need to be decisive, and that it will almost certainly involve strike action.
In the meantime, there are other forms of mobilisation which all of us can play a part in. For example:
Vote, and tell people to vote, in the in-house elections!
A record turn-out in the elections, which run until Thursday April 9 and concern all HQ status staff, would send a strong message to both Louette and the government.
For the journalists’ vote, our aim is to go well above the 54% participation rate recorded in 2007. If enough of us make an effort, we should be able to top 60%. Yes we can!
Vote for CGT candidates!
Voting is an elementary duty - but voting for our lists is even better! In this decisive period, the SNJ-CGT’s candidates are the best placed to provide robust opposition to management’s and the government’s plans for journalists in particular and the agency as a whole. Our CEO should be protecting us and not selling us down the river!
Sign, and get people to sign, the SOS-AFP.ORG petition!
Despite the various obstacles placed in its path our petition is nearing the milepost of 15,000 signatures, and the list includes a very large number of French MPs and other prominent personalities.
The initiative will carry on after March 31, with the aim of going well past 20,000 names.
Spread the word around, to your friends, colleagues, relatives and via your online networks. Every name counts!
SNJ-CGT-AFP, Paris Monday March 23, 2009