Next month, a local broadcaster will cease to exist. Eight of the 12 employees of Radio Monaco will leave the company on 31 December. After weeks of silence, they speak out about their leaving conditions.
Eight men and women, fellow journalists and passionate about information, have all been dismissed by Radio Monaco. At the end of December, two thirds of the SARL (Radio Monaco Society) will have left the company, located at Gildo Pastor Center. There will be no more programmes at the local level at 95.4. You may know the names, Franck Blanchon, Jimmy Boursicot, Camille Chappuis, Jean-Christophe Dimino, Franck Hermann, Catherine Pomart, Jean-Christophe Sanchez, Kelly Vargin. You may recognise some of their voices, which have accompanied you each day for the past several years.
Today, contemplating the radio waves falling silent, all eight soon-to-be dismissed employees feel a lump in their throats. “There is an entire Monaco broadcasting community that doesn’t feel like celebrating anymore,” they explain together. After the huge blow caused by the eight dismissal letters, followed by the discontent after talks with manager Richard Borfiga, the employees wish to take up the pen to reveal what really happens away from the microphone.
“This is how they show their appreciation, in the middle of the season and without any prior consultation or possible alternative.”
It must be noted that in Radio, programmes are blocked out from September to June. Finding work in the middle of the season, not to mention in a sector badly affected by the crisis, is nearly impossible. Without the possibility of a career change–and no Monegasque employees have the right to paid training–they thus face the near certainty of being unemployed at least until the 2017 return.
In view of this, Richard Borfiga states, “We are obliged to show people maximum respect. They are requesting full payment until September in order to finish the season. It is normal that we should listen to them and we will deal with each one case by case. Dismissals are not easy.”
Being dismissed is perhaps even less easy. Especially as the law only provides one fifth of a monthly salary per year worked in the company. “It’s normal that there should be a redundancy payment,” Richard Borfiga points out. From the employer’s side, no more information is forthcoming. Six weeks after leaving, the employees assert that they have not received any firm offer.
Over one million euro lost each year
They continue, “The justification for this extreme brutality is ‘economic’ urgency, even though the radio’s influence and its sales turnover are higher than ever before.”
According to sources, the radio is losing more than one million euros per year, a large amount but not a recent deficit. The only new factor is the selection of Richard Borfiga last July, to succeed Fabrice Larue. Two men with two very different profiles.
“Today, it’s about repositioning radio and meeting the needs of the local population,” explains Thomas Giaccardi, solicitor defending the interests of Gildo Pallanca-Pastor and his wife, two of the shareholders. “We have a market that does not permit us to continue following exactly the same approach as the national radio.” This approach, which showed ambition, determination, and a feel for the media, had nonetheless worked for nearly 10 years. It’s important to recognise the current context as well, with a shareholder consul general for Monaco in New York since 5th May 2015, which is no longer the same as it was in 2007.
More than being victims of economic logic, the employees feel they have been treated poorly, with management “in disregard for the basic social rules, without presenting a support plan or measures for compensation. Worse still, by proposing to some to continue working for the same company, as an undeclared worker or under the French legal standing of being ‘self-employed’. (…) We are appalled by this lack of consideration and the lack of humanity shown by the managers.”
“This information is false,” states Richard Borfiga. “I represent the interests of Mr. Pastor and there is no interest in making them work ‘under the table.’ The risk is too high.”
At the end of the day, this controversy changes nothing about the reality that on 31st December 2016, eight employees of Radio Monaco will find themselves unemployed.