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EFJ calls on El Pais management to end industrial crisis

8 November 2012

Today the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) said the situation at leading Spanish newspaper El Pais is going from bad to worse and called the management to respect the demands of the unions.

El País is going through three days of strike called by all unions, including EFJ affiliates FSC-CCOO and FeSP, and with the support of the journalists' associations FAPE, to protest against the dead-end in negotiations over restructuring at the newspaper. Around one third of the staff, representing 149 journalists and media workers are threatened by redundancies and lay-offs. The deadline given by the company to negotiate was the end of today, 8th November. If no agreement is reached, it will be up to a court to decide on the scale of the redundancies.

"All too often staff cuts are thought to be a solution to economic problems, but in reality cuts can lead to even more problems because the quality of the journalism is inevitably affected" said EFJ General Secretary Stephen Pearse. "We are concerned not only for the jobs and the future of our colleagues, but also by the fate of an internationally renowned newspaper such as El Pais".

The unions have reported that 95 per cent of staff at El Pais were striking over the past three days. On the evening of Wednesday 7 November, a demonstration took place in Puerta del Sol (symbolic point for all demonstrations against budget cuts in Madrid). Similar demonstrations took place in other Spanish places, such as Barcelona, Bilbao and cities of Galicia. That same day, the paper was delivered to street sellers with only half of its usual pagination and without coverage of important regional news.

El Pais is closing down provincial news rooms. Very little news was produced by staff journalists and the unions condemn the management of the PRISA Group owning the paper who used freelances in Mexico and foreign correspondents to avoid being brought to court in Spain. According to Spanish law, they could be prosecuted if they were to use an external workforce inside the country while a legal strike is taking place.

"The EFJ supports its Spanish affiliates in their denunciation of these new tactics of using labour bought in from abroad to undermine the current strike", added Pearse.

Tags: EFJ, El Pais, Spain, dispute, solidarity