The staff at the Swiss News Agency (SDA-ATS), the country’s only news wire service and the main source of news for many Swiss media, have launched a warning strike over management’s restructuring plans, which include slashing up to a quarter of all jobs.
The Swiss News Agencyexternal link, known as ATS in French and SDA in German, announced at 2pm on Tuesday that staff had launched a warning strike until 5pm.
During the three-hour period, a minimum emergency-only news wire service was proposed. The strike affects the publishing of news on all topics in German, French and Italian.
The action follows the ratcheting up of tensions between management and journalists. On January 9, the agency announced that up to 40 jobs out of a total of 180 were at risk due to a pressure to lower prices.
The agency, which was created in 1895, estimates it will face a CHF3.1 million ($3.15 million) drop in turnover in 2018 despite a renewal of contracts with its biggest clients, which include the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo.ch’s parent company, and the Swiss federal government.
The spokesman for the federal government, André Simonazzi, told Swiss public radio, SRF, that it was seeking information on whether agreed news services would be delivered.
“If not, then the Confederation may reduce its payments to the news agency,” he added.
Restructuring is due to take place over the next two years to make up for the shortfall in revenues. Besides job cuts, employees will also be encouraged to take early retirement or reduce their working hours. Other measures to reduce costs include combining the Swiss and international news branches and getting rid of its inhouse financial news section.
The news agency has denied that the job cuts have anything to do with its merger with the photo agency Keystone that was announced last October. The merger has yet to be approved by the competition authorities.