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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Statutes, Jobs, Editorial: Joint AFP Unions Issue Strike Call


Changes to our 1957 statutes, editorial reorganisation, multimedia projects, a planned move to a new building for part of the Paris editorial team: for months now AFP management has been pushing ahead with far-reaching changes with a complete lack of transparency, and without staff or their representatives being given a say in all these upheavals.

The joint CGT, SNJ, FO and Sud unions consider it unacceptable that reforms as important as those being drawn up by CEO Pierre Louette and the French government should be drawn up in secret, without staff being associated with plans for the Agency’s future. The unions demand that the reform project aimed at turning AFP into a joint-stock company, be it with public-sector capital, be abandoned. They also call for the convening of a round-table conference to examine the resources required to allow AFP to go on carrying out its missions.

The round table would bring together representatives of the state, the media, the relevant parliamentary committees (including both the government and opposition deputies), AFP’s management and both national trade unions and their AFP branches.

The joint unions demand that the government reply by September 30 to their proposal of a round table. They also demand an authentic in-house dialogue with the opening of negotiations on:

  • Plans to reorganise AFP’s editorial services
  • Plans to move part of the Paris editorial services into new premises in rue Vivienne
  • Multimedia and online development plans
  • The 4XML editorial and technical project.

On the issue of technical changes, no decision should be taken before there has been a real process of reflection, and broad consultation on that and all the other issues at stake. There also has to be consultation of an expert on new technologies, as demanded by the elected members of the Works Committee.

In the meantime AFP has to go on being able to carry out its missions, which means a halt to management’s policy of continually undermining the status and the employment prospects of people on freelance, short-term contracts or other precarious labour agreements. People who have been employed on short-term (CDD) contracts for the longest periods, and freelancers who are de facto doing full-time work, should be given permanent status. An in-house petition to defend these employees has already garnered over 450 signatures.

Given the current situation, the joint CGT, SNJ, FO and Sud unions call on Paris-based staff to attend a:

GENERAL ASSEMBLY today WEDNESDAY, at 2:30 (1230 GMT) in the third-floor editorial room.

To back up their demands, the joint unions propose that all Paris-based staff observe a:

STRIKE on THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 17 from 2:00 to 8:00 PM (1200 to 1800 GMT).

The labour stoppage will take place at the same time as the monthly Works Committee meeting, during which management is expected to provide new information on its plans to change AFP’s statutes.

The strike call involves administrative and technical staff working in France, and journalists working for French domestic news services. During the strike, journalists are asked to file only alerts and urgents.

JOINT CGT, SNJ, FO and SUD UNIONS - Paris, September 15, 2009