Court orders RFI to change job cut plan

Text of report by Radio France Internationale website on 29 September

A Paris appeals court has ordered Radio France Internationale (RFI) to make adjustments to its plan to cut staff by 206 posts. In a decision handed down on Monday, the court found the RFI plan contained a number of irregularities, and ordered management to make more serious efforts to redeploy personnel to other public broadcasters.

Both unions who called the strike and management expressed satisfaction over the court decision. The unions point to the suspension of the redundancy process, saying that “it is a warning to other public broadcasters who may want to go down the same road”.

Management noted that the plan to lay off 206 personnel was not rejected by the court. RFI’s managing director, Genevieve Goetzinger, said that management would continue with the plan, by “rapidly including the two modifications demanded by the judge. The entire procedure should be completed within a few days.”

In addition to its call for redeployment efforts and the waiving of trial periods for those redeployed, the court ordered RFI to treat all journalists as part of the same category, thus eliminating different criteria for redundancy between the French-language and foreign-language journalists.

The court decision comes against the background of the longest strike in public broadcasting since the general strike of May 1968. The strike began on 12 May, was interrupted on 10 July, and started again at the beginning of September.

Management announced the redundancy plan, which included the closure of six language services (German, Albanian, Polish, Serbo-Croat, Turkish and Lao) in January, arguing that listenership was down and that the company had run up large deficits.

The French Socialist Party has called for the government to step in to resolve the conflict.