Gallic peace near

Several issues resolved in pubcaster strike

PARIS — Management at pubcaster France Television is edging its way toward an agreement with staffers at regional public broadcaster France 3. The agreement would end an eight-day strike that has so far cost the public service around 36 million francs ($6.2 million).

Negotiations between pubcaster president Xavier Gouyou-Beauchamps and the unions broke down Monday over the length of the work week and salary issues. With France 3 off the air, the strikers demonstrated in front of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Some issues resolved

However, several key issues appear to have been resolved. Gouyou-Beauchamps has committed France Television to investing an extra $6 million next year in regional programming and news services. In addition, local France 3 stations will be able to unhook from the national broadcaster for an extra 26 minutes per week to screen local fare.

The remaining stumbling blocks involve working hours and salaries. Journalists at France 3 are looking for a four-day week, while non-journalists want a 35-hour week — prior to government legislation designed to introduce the concept nationwide. France Television management has offered a trial period for the four-day week and the creation of a study group to look at the 35-hour work week.

Bonus cut

On the salary issue, staffers at France 3 have traditionally been paid less than at sister pubcaster France 2. A $500 bonus in 1996 was reduced to $50 this year, and France 3 staffers want the difference made good. Culture minister Catherine Trautmann has instructed Gouyou-Beauchamps to come up with a plan to gradually phase out the salary gap between France 2 and France 3.

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