Section Agence France-Presse du Syndicat national des journalistes
Agence France-Presse Branch of the French National Journalists' Union (SNJ)
News & Views
Journalists, vote for your union : the SNJ
Journalists, you are invited to choose your new staff delegates and work committee members in this year’s staff elections, taking place from June 28 to July 29. Elections of staff representatives are a major social right, so make sure to exercise it and cast your vote! For yourself and former generations who fought for this right, please vote, it takes only a few minutes online ! (The whole procedure is explained here and on the intranet).
Please don’t undermine your rights by abstaining. Voting is a very effective way to express your own views, and to enforce your rights !
The media industry as a whole, and AFP in particular, are experiencing massive and wideranging technological changes; and everywhere, jobs and bargaining powers are being reshuffled. Your union, the Syndicat National des Journalistes (SNJ), France’s main organisation of journalists and a strong and politically independent union financed purely by its members, is the best tool to enforce your rights, fight for decent living wages and protect the freedom of the press.
During the last mandate, your SNJ staff representatives have succesfully : prevented AFP becoming a company controlled by shareholders or the state; opposed a hasty parliamentary reading of a half-baked reform of the agency’s statutes; fought to enshrine AFP’s fundamental mission of providing unbiased information, which is an essential component of democracy; denounced very serious breaches of ethical rules, and pushed for the creation of jobs despite the cost-cutting climate prevailing in the media industry.
From 4XML to the IRIS editorial system : what role for journalists as AFP reshapes itself? The agency is rightly embracing the new multimedia era. We have all tried by ourselves, department by department, to adapt to those new challenges, but putting in place a one-fits-all strategy and getting everyone involved is far from easy. While such a revolution is underway, we should all work together in the same direction, and both unions and the management should foster fair and open industrial relations...
Alas, the management is too often reluctant to hold discussions and prefers to embark on lengthy legal battles or power struggles, instead of agreeing to discuss and negotiate agreements. Such an ill-conceived strategy can only generate a lot of unnecessary tension and frustation, and this behaviour fuels unjustified attacks against the unions. In such a climate, some narrow-minded interests are put before the common good. Examples abound : the tragi-comic move to rue Vivienne, the introduction of multimedia editing at the desk Afrique, the precarious situation of countless journalists on short term or local contracts and stringers; the neverending battle to create a regional statute for journalists with local contracts; the new terms & conditions for expatriate workers that were imposed without any negotiation; the neglect in which numerous talented journalists -especially those who have reached a certain age- are left; the chronical lack of staff across bureaus and departments; wages that never match the spiralling costs we all face; the invisible copyrights payments that the company might finally accept to make, after years of battle by SNJ members...
The move to rue Vivienne is a blatant example of the management’s authoritarian methods. It refused common sense proposals to move commercial and back-office staff into rue Vivienne offices. Instead, in the name of multimedia integration, but without sufficient thinking and discussion, entire editing and reporting teams were moved regardless of their needs into non-fitting offices, sometimes ending up being split and less able to communicate with other departments than they were before, far from delivering carefully planned synergies. We must now try to build on what we’re left with and try to turn this disaster around by properly coordinating and helping the video and pictures services, by forming a true "pôle technique de l’image". Contrary to what part of the management seems to think, focusing solely on the editing part of the information process isn’t the right way to proceed. The gathering of news, the reporting, remains the basis of our work and our success, and shouldn’t be neglected. It is and will remain at the core of what we do. For years, the SNJ has been pushing for the development of multimedia and video, and can’t be suspected of having a backward or nostalgic attitude on that matter.
Similarly, the bad management of the launch of the multimedia console on the Desk Afrique generated scepticism and rejection, instead of curiosity and openness. Everything concurred to make things worse, against the difficult background of the move to rue Vivienne : a work overload due to the "Arab spring", chronic understaffing, a lack of prospect for older journalists, the loss of the opportunity to do some reporting... The agency’s journalists aren’t used to refusing to work under pressure and doing longer hours when the news requires... But they don’t want to be forced to mass-produce multimedia news without any choice while staff numbers remain desperatingly low, and with precarity as a reward...
Furthermore, we can’t seriously be asked to work more, when for the last three years, our standard of living has declined ! At least, the SNJ and the CFDT union have negotiated a distribution among all categories of the ludicrously small wage increase recently decided on an industry-wide basis... Had the national agreement been blindly applied, the well-paid categories would have received bigger increases, and most of the journalists nothing! Some, who claim to be on the side of the journalists, seem to follow other interests... Protecting our wages, ensuring that they remain an incentive and that expatriation will still be rewarding for all those who embrace it, is a main purpose of our union. As stated in the Charte d’ethique professionnelle des journalistes, recently updated by the SNJ, material security is a pillar of journalist’s independence.
Coincidentally, the payment of author’s rights to journalists is not only an opportunity to earn a bit more, but is above all a recognition of the intellectual and creative aspect of our job. The CEO is finally starting to recognise those rights, after years of struggle by the SNJ-AFP. This is becoming an urgent issue, especially now that the company is remunerated for private copying; that some photographers are specifically paid for their author’s rights, which generates inequality; and that the rapidly-increasing production of webclips and animated products is creating potential for a more widespread conflict and numerous legal challenges. Therefore, a satisfactory agreement must be reached. We favor a fair sharing of author’s and related rights compensations between all journalists as a rule (notwithstanding the possibility of some limited exceptions).
Last but not least, the SNJ is calling for a quick conclusion of the negotiations on journalists without a stable or permanent contract. Even if all of our demands don’t end up being met, the negotiations underway since january should provide at least the hiring under permanent contracts (CDI) of around thirty reporters either under short term contracts (CDD), or local staff who started their career with a CDD, or working as stringers, especially those covering the Parisian suburbs. They will also create a guaranteed living wage for some picture, video and text stringers. This will give, at last, some visibility to many young journalists who have been waiting for too long to get into stable employment. Behind the figures, the SNJ-AFP is insisting on having clear rules established, to prevent such a situation from ocurring again in the future.
The SNJ’s candidates :
Works Committee Delegates (délégués au comité d’entreprise or "CE") Main candidates / Alternates
1 - Benoît Fauchet (Desk France) ; Matthieu Demeestere (politique)
Staff Delegates (délégués du personnel or "DP") Main candidates / Alternates
1 - Eric Lagneau (sports desk) ; Juliette Collen (Desk Multimédia)
4 July 2011