France: strikes at financial paper Les Echos

Staff at the Daily paper voted to strike for a third time in three weeks after management reneged on promises.

Submitted by jef costello on July 7, 2007

Workers at the paper are concerned about plans by its owner Pearson, to sell it to LMVH. LMVH is currently the owner of La Tribune, Les Echos' less popular rival. Although LMVH is currently trying to sell La Tribune and its head, Bernard Arnault has pledged to sell La Tribune if he does buy Les Echos.

Workers and the Journalist's Society (SDJ) are extremely concerned that conflicts of interests with LMVH could lead to a loss of independence. The main compromise agreed in negotiations with Pearson was that a committee, with a majority of SDJ members be given the right to veto the appointment or firing of any editor.

However on Tuesday morning when the company offered the workers an agreement they had removed this proposition. Workers immediately held a general assembly and voted to strike 102 for, 32 against and one abstention.

Workers wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister Francois Fillon calling for government support. The strike was ended the following day and workers agreed to return to work after Pearson called a meeting of the works council for next Wednesday and the government promised to support journalistic independence and to enforce any assurances made by Pearson.