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ARGENTINA | 27-06-2018 10:29

Télam: 354 workers fired at state-run news agency

The government alleges its predecessors in the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner government inflated the number of permanent staff at agencies like Télam by formalising previously illegal labour arrangements with workers just as the former president left office.

Tensions between workers at the state-run news agency Télam and the national government reached boiling point Monday with the mass lay-off of 354 of the agency’s workers.

Remaining staff at Télam will strike, their union representatives confirmed Tuesday, as they denounced the "ideological cleansing" of workers who joined the agency under previous governments.

“We have separated workers who do not meet the profile” that the agency needs, was how Télam’s board of directors described the decision to fire 40 percent of its permanent staff.

The agency's management said the move, which will shed 354 of Télam's 960 jobs, was part of an effort to "modernise and professionalise the company."

"Like so many state agencies and companies, the agency we inherited was also a victim of the irresponsibility and mismanagement of the previous government which used the public service for the purposes of political support," the outlet's management said in a statement.

For his part, Federal Media and Public Content minister Hernán Lombardi said “the Télam agency has a future.”

“Today, journalism and citizens win. Today, Télam’s future wins,” he added, confirming the precise number of sacked workers.

Across a number of fields, the government alleges its predecessors in the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner government inflated the number of permanent staff at agencies like Télam by formalising previously illegal labour arrangements with workers just as they left office.

Télam “was the victim of the irresponsibility and mismanagement of the previous government with used ‘the public’ as a means for political and partisan ends,” the President of Télam Rofolfo Pousá said in a statement, saying that the agency had 479 workers in 2003 and 926 by 2015.

The mass lay-off at Télam includes workers with over 20 years experience at the agency, media reports suggest.

Unions accused the government of President Mauricio Macri of trying to deliver a state media favourable "to capital concentrated in industry."

Macri, under pressure to reduce Argentina's fiscal deficit to comply with a US$50-billion IMF loan, is seeking to slash costs at state media companies Télam, TV Publica and Radio Nacional.

-TIMES

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