Mass layoffs at L'Hebdo and Le Temps: 36 jobs to be cut

Following the discontinuation of the weekly magazine L'Hebdo, Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland announced on Thursday that 36 jobs will be cut. The newspaper Le Temps, which belongs to the same publishing house, is also heavily affected.


The publishers announced the layoffs to the editorial staff Thursday morning: 25 people will be laid off, and eleven will retire early. In addition, the mandate of seven freelancers of L'Hebdo has been terminated, Michel Danthe, president of the editorial commission, told the news agency SDA on Thursday. He thus confirmed reports from the French-speaking Swiss radio and television RTS.

The job cuts also affect Le Temps newspaper, which had shared a newsroom with Hebdo. "This is the biggest restructuring in the history of the newspaper. We are losing about 20 jobs," Danthe said. At the daily, all sections are losing one to two jobs. The two sections most affected are Opinion and Debate and Culture, Danthe noted. A social plan is being negotiated for the job cuts.

The editorial team had submitted its proposals to the publishing house on Friday to reduce the number of layoffs. It proposed reducing the management team and cutting the office space used in the building from three to two floors.

"All staff proposals for alternative savings aimed at reducing the number of redundancies have been rejected. In particular, the management has refused to reduce the number of staff at the management level (elimination of the position of director for Suisse Romande and one of the three editor-in-chief positions in the newsroom). This proposal would have resulted in savings of around CHF 600,000. Similarly, the proposal to rent two floors for the offices of the downsized editorial staff instead of the current three was rejected, which could have brought savings of around CHF 400,000. And the sale of L'Hebdo to a possible buyer was thrown to the wind."

(from the media release issued by the Editorial and Personnel Commission, February 16, 2017)

L'Hebdo discontinued after 35 years

The proposals were rejected on Wednesday, after which the layoffs were announced on Thursday. Ringier Axel Springer confirmed the reduction of 36 jobs. The publishing house had announced on January 23 that it would discontinue L'Hebdo after 35 years. The decision led to large protests in French-speaking Switzerland. Only on Wednesday, the management of Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland had assured in talks with the Vaudois government that it wanted to secure the newspaper Le Temps in the long term. The talks will be continued.

Syndicom and Imprint appalled

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the Syndicom trade union and the Imprint journalists' association expressed their outrage at the latest developments. The proposals made during the consultation process have been completely ignored with the wave of dismissals. The publisher Ringier Axel Springer had revealed with its approach "that it regarded the consultation procedure only as an annoying formality, and that the decisions had already been cemented beforehand". This was "diametrically opposed to the spirit and purpose of the Participation Act". Syndicom and Imprint also sharply criticize the fact that 20 of the people affected also directly affect Le Temps: "How this widely respected quality newspaper should continue to function after such a bloodletting is a mystery." (SDA/hae)

More articles on the topic