Journalists and technicians from the Euronews channel went on strike on the evening of Thursday, March 16, in response to the implementation of the massive layoff plan announced by management during an extraordinary social and economic council.
Voted "overwhelmingly" in the general assembly, according to the unions, the strike is scheduled until Monday, March 20, possibly renewable. For the striking employees, the plan is not a restructuring, as management claims, but a "dismantling which calls into question the essential vocation of the European channel". “With this plan, which eliminates whole sections of our activity, the editorial line of Euronews is completely called into question, the brand of the channel is now hijacked. International information is no longer at all the priority of the project imposed on us, "says Marie Jamet, delegate of the National Union of Journalists.
Nine months after its takeover by the Portuguese investment fund Alpac Capital, the Euronews channel, located in Lyon, is the subject of a job protection plan (PSE), which provides for 197 layoffs out of a workforce of 349 permanent employees, according to the last count of the unions. This plan removes two-thirds of the writing. Only the French and Russian teams would ultimately remain in Lyon, the chain's headquarters since its creation in 1993.
A loss of 20 million euros in 2022
The building with futuristic architecture, located on the banks of the Saône, has been on sale since the beginning of the year. In 2022, Euronews posted a loss of around 20 million euros. The redundancy plan aims to "save" the channel, so that it remains a "true European media", justified Guillaume Dubois, general manager, announcing the plan in front of the employees, Thursday, March 2.
The remaining staff would be redeployed to Brussels and distributed to different capitals. "Among the dismissed journalists, there are Russian and Turkish sisters and brothers who cannot return to their countries under penalty of being imprisoned", underlines the press release of the inter-union. The unions denounce the abandonment of filming and production of magazines, transferred to subcontractors.
Unions and strikers are now appealing to the highest European authorities, and to each leader of the Member States, to alert on the social situation of Euronews, and the political significance of this brutal restructuring.
"Essential public service"
“At a time when the channel was to celebrate its thirty years of existence, when history invites us to relaunch the European Union in the face of crises and war, the Euronews channel is dismembered. Every political leader must take a stand and tell us whether to abandon ourselves, and end the only international news channel on a European scale. If they no longer want this essential public service, we will go on unemployment, but that they assume in the face of history ”, confides to Le Monde Alexis Caraco, delegate of the CGT.
The management affirms that the vocation of the channel is part of a follow-up of "the news of the European institutions". Euronews journalists fear that the European channel will lose its informative vocation, in favor of "an echo chamber of lobbyists, intended for the 10,000 technocrats of the structures of Brussels", according to Alexis Caraco.
The employees on strike appeal in particular to the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. "Do not let an investment fund divert us from our public service mission, do not let it lay off 200 people in France, in the name of an uncertain project", insists the press release from the chain's inter-union.