► After a month, what is the extent of the strike at the Sunday Journal (JDD)?
The strike at the JDD, which began on June 22 to protest against the arrival at its head of the former editor of the weekly Valeurs Actuelles, Geoffroy Lejeune, is the subject of near-unanimity. Saturday July 22, its renewal until Tuesday 25 was approved by 98% of voters. “For a month, the number of strikers, close to a hundred, has changed very little. A sign of unfailing mobilization”, underlines the editorial staff in a text posted on the Society of Journalists’ Twitter account.
The duration of the movement, of thirty-two days, now exceeds that of the strike carried out at iTélé in 2016. Thirty-one days, this is often cited as a reference because it broke, at the time, the record for the longest strike in an audiovisual medium, hitherto held by Radio France.
But it is above all for the role of Vincent Bolloré that the JDD strike is often compared to the iTélé movement. By opposing the appointment of Geoffroy Lejeune, the journalists of the Sunday title denounce the ideological influence of the Breton billionaire via Vivendi, of which his group is the main shareholder, and which is preparing to acquire Lagardère – shareholder of the JDD but also of Europe 1 and Paris Match. In 2016, their colleagues at iTélé also rebelled against the stranglehold of Vivendi, the channel’s parent company, on the editorial staff.
► How did the iTélé strike end?
In early November 2016, iTélé journalists decided to return to work after signing an agreement with management. In particular, they had obtained the appointment of a “deputy director of information” supposed to be the guarantor of editorial independence. But less than two months later, more than 90 employees, out of an editorial staff of 120 journalists before the strike, had formalized their departure.
During the movement, the management had told them that they could take advantage of their “conscience clause” if they refused to work with the host Jean-Marc Morandini, then indicted for “aggravated minor corruption” and whose arrival on the channel was announced.
This device, included in the employment contract of journalists, allows them to leave their newsroom on their own initiative while benefiting from the conditions of a dismissal. It can only be applied if two conditions are met: that there is a “significant change in the character or orientation” of the media and that this change creates, for the journalist, “a situation likely to damage his honor, his reputation or, in general, his moral interests, “specifies the labor code.
► Why can’t JDD journalists avail themselves of their conscience clause?
The drafting of the JDD cannot resort to the conscience clause because no “significant change” has yet been proven in the character or orientation of the title. If the appointment of Geoffroy Lejeune is confirmed, he has not yet taken office.
Nor can journalists use the “assignment clause”. Provided for by the labor code, this also allows a journalist to leave his media on his own initiative while benefiting from the conditions of a dismissal, on the condition, this time, of a change of owner. This is the only criterion: no significant change in editorial line must be proven. If Vivendi’s purchase of Lagardère has been announced, it still has to be validated by the European Commission.