This past weekend EL PAÍS began to carry out the labor adjustment program (known as an ERE in Spanish) under which 129 members of the newspaper’s staff have been made redundant. Talks between the company and the newspaper’s works committee continued until last Thursday night, which marked the end of the month-long negotiation period that began when EL PAÍS officially presented a plan to cut its workforce on October 9. No agreement was forthcoming.
The final offer made to workers’ representatives included the possibility of voluntary redundancies and early retirement for staff members who will reach the age of 58 by the end of 2012. For those workers who opted for early retirement, the offer was to pay between 60 and 65 percent of their salary until they reached 63 years of age, up to a limit of 175,000 euros. Those who signed up for voluntary redundancy would have been offered 35 days’ pay per year worked, up to the limit of two years’ salary and 175,000 euros.
This proposition was rejected by a majority of EL PAÍS staff in a vote held on Friday.
The works committee has said that it will fight the legality of the ERE in court. As things stand, the 129 workers affected will receive the statutory minimum compensation of 20 days’ pay per year worked, up to a limit of one year's salary.
Just over three-quarters of EL PAÍS workers went on strike for three days from Tuesday to Thursday last week. Despite this, the newspaper did appear on the newsstands, albeit without the regional sections, the weekly travel supplement ‘El Viajero’ and the EL PAÍS ENGLISH EDITION, which is published as a supplement with the International Herald Tribune in Spain and Portugal.
The dismissals affect virtually all of the sections at EL PAÍS’ main Madrid newsroom, with a proportionally even greater burden falling on its regional bureaus in Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela.