Portugal: Solidarity with strikers from Global Media Group
Global Media Group (GMG), one of the largest media organisations in Portugal, is facing severe managerial difficulties impacting the future of the company and damaging labours’ rights. Job security and media pluralism are at stake, warns the Portuguese Union of Journalists (SinJor).
In September 2023, a new board took over the direction of GMG, which owns Diário de Notícias, Jornal de Notícias and TSF. The group is now backed by an investment fund owned by French businessman Clément Ducasse: World Opportunity Fund Ltd (WOF). Listed in the tax-haven Bahamas (Caribbean), it is registered by the Bahamas International Securities Exchange as a regulated mutual fund.
Despite very little information available about Ducasse, he is the man now in control of one of the most important media groups of the country. The media regulator, Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social (ERC), has repeatedly asked for more information on him and everyone involved in the fund. It has not yet received a satisfying answer.
As revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Ducasse is also behind companies recorded in the Paradise Papers.
The three media outlets, Jornal de Notícias, Diário de Notícias and TSF, are confronted with massive changes since the new board of directors was named, amidst a culture of fear and depreciation they had never experienced before.
The first announcement, dating November 2023, was the dismissal of 150 to 200 employees, roughly a third of the staff. The second announcement was that as part of the “restructuring plan”, the administration had decided to pay the 2023 Christmas allowance throughout the year of 2024 in a 12-month payment: an illegal action, as the collective agreement of journalists states that the Christmas allowance was due at the latest on 7 December 2023. This manoeuvre was denounced by the union to the Portuguese work regulator, ACT.
Moreover, since October, salaries arrive late, and the number of days in delay has been increasing month on month.
On 10 January 2024, journalists went on a one-hour strike to protest against GMG management. Their demands include the immediate payment of unpaid salaries and Christmas bonuses, as well as improved working conditions to ensure the public’s right to information.
“What’s going on at GMG is a great threat to media freedom, transparency, plurality and, above all, to journalists’ lives,” commented Luís Filipe Simões, President of the Union Board of the Portuguese Union of Journalists and Augusto Correia, board member of the Portuguese Union of Journalists and journalist at “Jornal de Notícias”. “Meanwhile, the administration refuses to acknowledge the damages, focusing only on limiting costs and funding other projects of personal interest,” the statement said.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins the Portuguese Union of Journalists (Sinjor) in calling for transparency and respect for labour’s rights.
EFJ President Maja Sever said: “We support GMG workers’ demands for basic rights such as being paid on time, compliance with laws and collective bargainings, as well as secure employment. Our colleagues should not see their working conditions modified so radically as a result of a change in the board. We call on the group to make quality information a priority for the newspapers it owns.”