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AlpineSkier
7th Feb 2013, 16:00
This story is so strange to me because it is like having a time-machine and travelling back to the U.K. in the 1980's: it even involves the same industry.

All French newspapers - but not magazines - are distributed by one company , which long ago signed an exclusivity deal with one union for all employees. As is usual, over time when newspapers were fat and happy, this union negotiated all kinds of wonderful benefits. Its emplyees earn something like four times the minimum wage ( approx E 5,000/ $ 6,500 per month ) for work that has no skill content whatsoever.

Over the past 10 years the newspaper business has obviously been getting worse, volumes down 25% etc, but the CGT union won't hear of job losses, so although printing machines now count the bundles of newspapers wrapped ( as one example ), there are still CGT members sitting there all night because their job is to count bundles !! The employer wants to cut 1250 jobs out of 2,500 so that gives an idea of the over-manning : the union has offered to cut 50 jobs with the employees being paid off. The last time this happened, the departing (unskilled ) workers got around E 200,000 ($ 260,000 ) each !

Because the union has an exclusivity , this means that any new employees will be sons, cousins etc of existing employees which just makes the whole thing more tightly wrapped and harder to break up.

The employer is making big losses ( surprise :hmm: ) and is desperate to rationalise matters but the union won't play. Since September 2012 they have stopped work on 30 days either completely or partially stopping newspaper distribution. This has obviously hit newspapers hard, but has had more effect on newspaper-sellers, particularly those typically Parisian kiosks on the pavement who are limited to selling papaers and no tobacco unlike newsagent shops.

I started by saying that this was like the U.K. in the 80's and so it is with two major differences: in the UK the situation was similar for many years in all respects except it was the printers and not the distributors who were the money-grabbing Luddites. The cataclismic shift came when Murdoch started The Sun and took over The Times and there was then a financial goliath owning papers instead of little companies. When he had got his feet under the table, he made his plans and then sprung an almighty trap that the print unions fell into ( it was computerised type-setting direct from the journalists computers but that is irrelevant ). There then followed a hugely violent strike lasting 300-400 days which crushed the print unions and massively reduced his costs: it was also extremely important that legislation passed by the Tory government made it illegal, under penalty of huge fines, for uninvolved unions to strike to help the print-workers, so the truck-drivers couldn't strike and refuse to deliver papers because it didn't concern them.

In France the papers are not -AFAIK- owned by giant corporations and have fragile finances, so couldn't stand prolonged action: this is also the reason why they don't desert this distribution company as the union would immediately seek to sabotage them somewhere else - most likely with the truck-drivers.

The union involved is a branch of the CGT, which - and I wasn't aware of this -has a reputation for being an industrial dinosaur with hard-left politics and is currently involved in headline disputes at Peugeot, Renault, Goodyear, Sanofi.

The linked article comments and quotes someone involved as saying the union officials are acting from political beliefs to attack the capitalist system and if a company is driven under and a few thousand lose their jobs , well sacrfices have to be made.

A very difficult scenario for Hollande to master and for France to face: it looks like things are going to deteriorate much quicker than I had expected

toffeez
7th Feb 2013, 16:32
Of course therein lies one of the enormous differences between France and the UK.

UK has been losing jobs, but the PM or Mrs Queen doesn't think they have to intervene every time.

The UK has also been creating jobs recently but France has not. As their unemployment rate continues to climb the temptation for political intervention increases.

The ordinary French public probably studied philosophy at school but have not a clue about economics. Hence their regular support for job preservation at all costs.

Fox3WheresMyBanana
7th Feb 2013, 16:35
Given the times we are now in, the question I always ask is..

Exactly how many senior managers and directors are getting pay cuts and laid off?

And I'm sure the politicians are setting a fine example by taking pay and pensions cuts.

"We're all in this together!"

AlpineSkier
7th Feb 2013, 16:46
Fox

In this case I have no idea about the directors pay, but can perhaps remind you that all government ministers are earning 30% less than their predecessors in Sarko's mob. The ministers will, along with everybody else, have to wait two more years to get their state pension.

sitigeltfel
7th Feb 2013, 16:49
The union involved is a branch of the CGT, which - and I wasn't aware of this -has a reputation for being an industrial dinosaur with hard-left politics The CGT are the equivalent of what was the TGWU in the UK. It is a given, that any industry where they have a sphere of influence is doomed. Their tactics are like those of the Field Marshals in World War 1, using their members as canon fodder in the pursuit of outdated and discredited political aims. Labour relations here are stuck in the post revolutionary 1800s with the bosses caricatured as villains and the workers as demi-gods. It is the main reason why I refuse to directly employ anyone here, and use only sub contractors, who can either shape up or ship out.

wings folded
7th Feb 2013, 16:49
And I'm sure the politicians are setting a fine example by taking pay and pensions cuts.


Well, err, yes. One of the first things Hollande did was to cut his pay and his Ministers' by 30%

AS got there first

wings folded
7th Feb 2013, 17:32
By the way, one of the first things Sarkozy did as President was award himself a 150% pay rise.

But I suppose that as the perfect anithesis of the fluffy, tree hugging leftie spender of other people's money (add any other caricatural epithets you think fit) he was entirely justified, since he was not being hypocritical.

He was chucked out after only one term, like his predecessor Giscard, from the same political tendency.

Mitterand (another nasty socialist) serrved two terms.

Fox3WheresMyBanana
7th Feb 2013, 17:36
Glad to hear it. Wonder if other countries will get the hint.

airship
7th Feb 2013, 17:43
Whatever, having never received my UK Economist magazine last week (which makes at least 3 times since 12/2012) from my local tabac/buraliste, one concludes that the obvious solution is to henceforth subscribe to the Economist online / print edition, delivered by post.

Amazing then, how assorted Economist editors have done everything apart from physically assassinating Berlusconi in the 1st degree over the past decade. Meanwhile, the Economist magazine have known for decades that the distribution of their magazine was either unprofitable or very unreliable here in France. What did they do about it? Apart from 1 or 2 articles over the past 20 years, I do believe that the Economist's editors have spent far too much time attacking Berlusconi compared to the company responsable for distributing the Economist magazine to French newstands.

Not only does that display an indisputable weakness today of the conglomerate behind the newspaper and the Economist itself. But betrays the origins of the Economist magazine. That of mostly "looking good" when the going was good, and failing more often than it ever got anything very right...?!

Please Mr. Economist, it's not too late to change. Or will you also simply succomb by the way of Newsweek and Time, your more or less long-diasappeared competitors...?!

Tableview
7th Feb 2013, 17:45
You might that they would learn that socialism doesn't work. And yet history repeats itself and they keep electing socialist a***holes and then regretting it.

Christine Lagarde would be the best president France colud have, but by the time Tovarich Hollandovich finishes his term there may be nothing left for her to run and nobody left for her to preside over.

Will the last one to leave turn off the light. On second thoughts, it won't be necessary as EdF will have moved out and become global, or sold all French produced electricity to Poland.

Sprogget
7th Feb 2013, 18:03
Newspaper businesses sign restrictive contracts with no thought to possible future outcomes. Then fail at their own business and start crying no fair.


Two sides to every story.

airship
7th Feb 2013, 18:56
I remember very well how TIME mgazine attempted to renew my "free" 3 month subscription about 15-17 years ago: sending me letters ostensibly from TIME'S European agents in Belgium or whatever. Threatening me with legal action if I did not immediately pay for my "automatically-renewable" subscription after the "free 3 months" delivered.

TIME and NEWSWEEK are absent from most French news-stands these days.

Hopefully, the Economist newspaper and its' American editor currently, won't ever descend to such dismal depths.

Whatever funds any of these magazines / newspapers ever got from their governments in the form of "subsidies", 1st access to stories or just privileged access to some government employees (appointed, elected or whatever), pretty much sucks.

There is a fine line between reporting the news and participating in government-encouraged proganda. The Economist stepped over that line a few years ago concerning Berlusconi. Since then, I hardly ever pay any attention to any Economist article (especially from the Editor) concerning Italy.

The time will eventually come when I no longer have any confidence in any reports from whatever source. That's when airship becomes an outlaw officially. And liable to be taken out by the nearest drone... :sad:

toffeez
7th Feb 2013, 19:22
Someone had a monopoly in typewriters and carbon paper...

As Jimmy Savile said "it was good while it lasted".

It's all over now. Let them all go to the wall.

What do you need most? Not printed news.

NRU74
7th Feb 2013, 19:31
AlpineS
Do you have a link to the original article/source?
(Mrs NRU is doing a French Degree and is doing the 'Culture/Media' bit right now.)

OFSO
7th Feb 2013, 19:57
What do you need most? Not printed news.

As a total newsfreak I can only agree. Having SKY and BBC news on TV (for the moment, anyway) but access to just about everything over the 'net, the only reason to buy a paper on Saturday is the crossword. Most breaking stories come up first on PPRuNe anyway (thanks PPRuNe !) and the comment from JB contributors is (mostly) more erudite and of a higher quality than anywhere else.

AlpineSkier
7th Feb 2013, 20:00
@NRU 74

Apologies, believed it was there

Le Figaro - Mdias & Publicit : Presstalis, le conflit qui mine la presse (http://www.lefigaro.fr/medias/2013/02/07/20004-20130207ARTFIG00372-presstalis-le-conflit-qui-mine-la-presse.php)

airship

You are a bit astray with your comments about Newsweek as it ceased its printed version during the past few weeks.

Sprogget

So that's ok then, is it ? Newspaper distribution( and possibly future of newspapers all together ) to the whole country is killed because of 1,000 greedy ****ers ( my choice of words ) in a Parisian warehouse ?

Milo Minderbinder
7th Feb 2013, 20:09
so - what are the french using now for toilet paper?

toffeez
7th Feb 2013, 20:19
La Depeche du Midi is highly recommended.

It has other uses, like cleaning shoes ...

Sprogget
7th Feb 2013, 20:19
So that's ok then, is it ? Newspaper distribution( and possibly future of newspapers all together ) to the whole country is killed because of 1,000 greedy ****ers ( my choice of words ) in a Parisian warehouse ? You tell me, you live there. I'm simply pointing out that aside from your highly dogmatic characterisation, another point of view exists. Either way, the continued existence of the French press famous for colluding in veils of silence over national political misbehaviour is of no interest to me.

Print media world wide is circling the drain.

NRU74
7th Feb 2013, 20:42
AlpineSkier
Many thanks
Regards
NRU74

skua
8th Feb 2013, 19:29
Airship
Have you written a letter to the editor? If not, why not do so. If they don't print it, copy it to Private Eye. Although the Eye is perhaps too UK focussed to get involved unless they wanted a broader attack on the Economist.

Skua

CelticRambler
10th Feb 2013, 16:41
Will the last one to leave turn off the light. On second thoughts, it won't be necessary as EdF will have moved out and become global, or sold all French produced electricity to Poland.

No need to turn off the lights - they go off of their own accord. EdF is currently a net importer of electricity, dumping cheap nuclear overcapacity in the summer and buying expensive green juice from the Germans in the winter to keep some of the lights on.

As for a Présidente Lagarde ? :eek: But .. but ... but ... she's a woman. Even the 'Mercians chose a black guy instead of a female. :oh:

AlpineSkier
10th Feb 2013, 16:53
Even the 'Mercians chose a black guy instead of a female.

Was that the East Mercians or the West Mercians ( before the Angles mixed it all up ?

Tankertrashnav
10th Feb 2013, 21:35
At university just over 20 years ago I studied the French press as a module in the fourth year of my French degree. I was surprised by the much lower circulation figures achieved by their daily newspapers. In 1992 not one French daily had a circulation approaching half a million, whereas several in the UK exceeded one million. Circulation must be even lower now, with the competition from the internet. I haven't kept up with the issue price of French dailies, but at the time they were in general 80% dearer than their British counterparts. Quite frankly I am amazed that France still has a printed daily press and I'm certain it can't exist in its present form for more than two or three years.

AlpineSkier
10th Feb 2013, 22:23
TTN

I share some of your feelings. During the last few years I have only bought Le Figaro a few times and have been surprised to pay between two and three euros.

RJM
11th Feb 2013, 15:06
Stupid questions from an outsider:

With all its infamous regulations, does not the EU prohibit such featherbedding by unions and compliant or blackmailed business owners?

What do the newspapers' shareholders have to say about their directors being party to such arrangements?

Do EU laws prevent a similar situation occurring in state-owned enterprises?

Ancient Observer
11th Feb 2013, 15:52
RJM,

How could you possibly think such a thing?
EU and French regulation is there to protect the CGT and its fellow travellers. Regulation is there to ensure that the hard won rights of the French worker, are preserved in to eternity, whether or not there is any actual work for them to do.

As to the shareholders, what on Earth makes you think that they might have any rights? Just like in the US of A, the shareholders are only there so the managers and Directors can have a very comfortable life.

AlpineSkier
11th Feb 2013, 16:00
With all its infamous regulations, does not the EU prohibit such featherbedding by unions and compliant or blackmailed business owners?

No. You are probably thinking about state subsidies which are restricted/illegal.


Do EU laws prevent a similar situation occurring in state-owned enterprises?

No. Except for direct capital investment if the company went bankrupt. Co-incidentally the French Cour des Comptes ( General Accounting Office )today criticised EdF (state electricity company ) for paying its employees too well and giving too many benefits. Believe they can only embarrass, not force change.


What do the newspapers' shareholders have to say about their directors being party to such arrangements

Don't know if this has previously been publicised. I doubt the directors would seek to do so, because it makes them look fools for being a party to it and not being able to get out ( fear of unions and strikes )

RJM
11th Feb 2013, 21:48
Thanks Alpineskier. It makes Giilard's Australlia look good!

cargosales
11th Feb 2013, 22:43
Newspaper businesses sign restrictive contracts with no thought to possible future outcomes. Then fail at their own business and start crying no fair.


Two sides to every story.

Quite true.

When I worked in Fleet Street in the 80's, the chickens were coming home to roost... big time!

The newspaper owners had for years accepted the unions restrictive practices because those were a very effective (i.e. hugely expensive) 'barrier to entry' to the market to potential competitors. Enter one E. Shah and a non-unionised workforce and it was a whole new ball game ..

Rupert Murdoch's battle with the unions was more to do with breaking the damaging practices that existed than working out a better way of doing things...

CS

airship
14th Feb 2013, 17:25
skua wrote: Have you written a letter to the editor?

Apparently I did do so (but don't remember having done so), because I received a reply from them yesterday: ...I am sorry to hear that you have been experiencing problems in finding The Economist at your buraliste; however, I can ensure you that we haven't given any exclusivity to Presstalis, as we never do with any of our suppliers/business partners...

...As a thank you for your loyalty, I am sending you the current issue of The Economist and a copy of Intelligent Life, our life style sister publication.

But in their email reply, I apparently asked for a full 1 year "free subscription"...?! Whatever, a few meatless bones thrown-out to stray dogs is always better than nothing I guess.

But you know what really riles me about their reply? It's: ...I can ensure you that we haven't given any exclusivity... I think the Economist writer mean't to say: "I can assure you that..." :rolleyes:

When I first started reading the Economist over 1/4 century ago (always buying it from local newstands wherever on the planet I found meself), I didn't need no reading glasses. But the Economist's own "overwhelming indulgence" of all things associated with globalisation and free-trade have apparently eventually caught up with their own lower-middle company structure, and their employees' poor command of the English language. I never intended to make a spectacle of myself or the Economist here most recently. but even "frost-free" refrigerators and freezers have to be emptied of their spoiled contents from time to time. :O

wings folded
14th Feb 2013, 18:57
airship

I may not be the sharpest chisel in the toolbox, but what the buggery has your disappointment with the Economist got to do with the this thread?

The Economist is a fairly crap publication; it appears authoratative and its articles are often well written, but extremely badly informed.

When you read an article on a topic about which you know a bit, you quickly realise that.

Stop buying it and move on.

vulcanised
14th Feb 2013, 19:37
I think the Economist writer mean't to say


Did they also tell you to put that extra in meant?