WASHINGTON, Mar. 14 – EFE News Services introduced a new wage cut proposal on Thursday that softened its earlier demand for payroll savings of 15 percent.
EFE proposed a tiered approach to wage reductions. Under its proposal, Employees earning in excess of $60,000 would see a nine percent reduction. Employees earning less than $60,000 but more than $45,000 would see a an eight percent wage cut. Employees earning $45,000 or less would see no wage reduction.
EFE General Manager Ignacio Sanz said the goal of the company’s proposal was to reduce costs by $124,000 annually. He described the news agency’s financial condition as critical and said that EFE, a state-owned company based in Madrid, was under orders from the Spanish government to meet the conditions of a solvency plan.
The Guild told EFE that it is aware of Spain’s current economic problems, where unemployment is over 25%.
“We read the newspapers,” said Tony Winton, the union’s chief negotiator. “We understand that bargaining has to reflect economic realities, and we will work with the company to ensure its viability in a manner that is fair to employees,” he said.
EFE has provided the Guild with fiancial data on its operations for the 2011 fiscal year. The material is now being reviewed by the reserach department of the Communications Workers of America, the Guild’s parent union.
Sanz also said EFE intends to expand its operations in the United States.
The employer also presented revised versions of many outstanding areas of the contract, including a revision to a new hours, overtime, and scheduling article. The new language, however, would still erase the concept of a normal workday and many other current scheduling protections. The Union told EFE the parties had already reached agreement in December on that article and that in its view, changes to the agreed-upon language are not welcome.
The parties agreed to enter “off the record” discussions to work towards reaching an overall agreement, but the NMG bargaining team will be fully involved in the process and no agreement will be reached unless it is at an on-the-record session.
Representing the Guild were: Winton; Jorge Bañales, unit chair; negotiating committee member Winston Rodríguez, and Kevin Keane, NMG administrator.
Representing EFE were: Sanz; José María Cernuda, the vice president of human resources in Madrid; José Manuel Sanz, vice president of EFE News Services, and attorney Arturo Ross.