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NUJ sends support to AFP journalists on strike in France

27 May 2011

The NUJ is supporting journalists' industrial action against change of statutes at Agence France Presse (AFP) in France. The 24-hour strike started at 6pm on Thursday 27 May.

AFP is threatened by a draft bill amending its statutes of 1957, which allowed it to grow and remain independent over the years. The draft bill, proposed without any internal consultation, proposes a new composition of the board with fewer representatives of the media and a new "agreement" with the state, thus weakening the independence of the AFP vis-à-vis the political power.

Its funding levels are also threatened by the proposal to register AFP as an ordinary commercial company so that "public subscription allocated to Agence France-Presse in public interest missions shall not exceed the amount of net cost of these obligations."

Unions and journalists say that any amendment of the statutes requires a debate within the company; that the proposal should be agreed by the staff; and that any decision at the Parliament or the Senate should be based on a broad majority.

All unions voted in favour of a motion in defiance of the management announcing their strong disagreement and the SNJ-CGT voted for strike action in response.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, said:

"The NUJ supports our colleagues in France on strike today and we call on Agence France Presse management to negotiate with the union."

Arne König, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) President, said:

"The AFP is a leading press agency in Europe and across the world. Its independence is therefore of crucial importance not only for all the journalists it employs, but also for journalists and media which use its material, and, in the end, the public who relies on the credibility of AFP."

EFJ members in France are the Syndicat national des journalistes (SNJ), the Syndicat national des journalistes SNJ-CGT and the journalists' section of the CFDT union.

Tags: , france, afp, efj, strike, snj, snj-cgt, cfdt