2011: Trade Unionism and Media Criticism

25 August 2011 | Activism, Media criticism

Presentation written on May 6, 2018

These documents, which for the moment are available only in French, give an insight into the intense and varied activity that a trade-union mandate can involve, particularly in a field as sensitive as journalism and in a labour landscape as complicated as the one we have in France.
The role of the works committee, an entity which at the time of writing is being recast and no doubt seriously undermined by the anti-union administration of Emmanuel Macron, allows its elected members to comment both on bread-and-butter issues for wage-earners, and on company strategy. Although the role of such committees, which have to be set up in companies with more than 50 employees, is solely consultative, they don’t have to be simply a talking shop. Minutes are written down and made public, which can be a useful tool for trying to hold company management to account. During the period in question, I took full advantage of the opportunities to speak out provided by both the committee itself, and the internet.
The two-year period threw up not only political and economic issues, but also a bitter conflict internal to my union, where I was attacked for having set up a broad-based association to try and gain wider support for the defence of AFP’s founding statutes.
The situation became so unpleasant that I took the very unusual step of switching my union affiliation in mid-mandate, something I was legally entitled to do. I had been elected in 2009 for the CGT journalists’ union, but two years later found myself running for a different union, SUD-AFP. The latter had been created, as can happen in France, by trade unionists who were unhappy with the way the “mainstream” unions were being run and operated. Quite early on in my mandate, I suddenly found myself becoming one of them.
In 2011, I therefore found myself fighting to be re-elected to the works committee, but for a different union than the one I had been elected for two years earlier. As my new union had a lot to prove, and faced a stiff fight to win acceptance, I felt it useful to write a full account of my mandate for the benefit of the voters. The documents presented here are the result; I think they contributed to my successful re-election in September 2011. And as I write this note over six years later, I also believe they are still of interest.