Télam offering voluntary layoff to employees amid shutdown plans

‘It’s nothing more than extortion’ say press union delegates after workers voted against the measure

A week after Télam workers found their newsroom unexpectedly fenced off by police, the public news agency offered voluntary layoffs to its employees through an official statement published on Monday. A worker’s assembly unanimously rejected the idea.

The offer is open to all permanent staff employees, offering tax-free compensation according to age and time at the company. The statement signed by Télam’s auditor Diego Chaher gives the staff 30 days to accept the offer and extends their mandatory paid leave for another week. However, workers strongly oppose the measure.

“There’s nothing voluntary about it when they are putting barriers and police cars and treat us as criminals,” Télam union delegate Tomás Eliaschev told the Herald. “It’s nothing more than extortion.”

A Télam workers’ assembly voted unanimously to reject the plan on Monday, and planned to present a bill that would place the agency within Congress’ purview “to fully guarantee plurality, which is what we always ask for.” Workers decided to continue their campout at the Télam headquarters and persevere in their campaign to raise awareness.

“We’re receiving support from hundreds of colleagues, foreign media, and Argentine journalists around the world,” said Eliaschev. “Media outlets small and big, across every platform and every corner of the country, along with social movements and human rights organizations are supporting Télam, and that gives us strength to carry on the fight.”

President Javier Milei announced his intention to close Télam during his speech to kickstart the legislative year in Congress, on March 1, calling it “a Kirchnerist propaganda agency.” Four days later, Télam was fenced off by police overnight, with employees receiving an email at 1 a.m. announcing the entire staff was being put on a week’s paid leave.

With around 700 employees, Télam is the biggest news agency in Argentina. Founded in 1945, it has reporters across the country and is widely used, even by large outlets, to provide details and reporting they cannot produce in-house. In October 2023, it produced 12,844 newswires, 6,030 photos, and other material including audio clips and infographics, which were downloaded or viewed over 450,000 times, according to a recent report produced by the agency.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald