MEXICO CITY – Former Notimex employees staged a protest on Monday outside the National Palace in Mexico City over the recent layoffs at the state-owned news agency.
Notimex said the job cuts were ordered as part of the austerity policy implemented by the federal government.
About 20 journalists gathered in the early morning hours outside the National Palace, carrying signs that called on President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to rehire fired workers and criticized Notimex director Sanjuana Martinez.
Lopez Obrador said during his daily press conference on Monday that Martinez would discuss the news agency’s condition and the reasons for the layoffs later this week.
The signs carried by the former news agency employees said “Sanjuana violaste nuestros derechos laborales” (Sanjuana You Violated Our Labor Rights) and “Presidente, queremos audiencia” (President, We Want a Meeting).
In early July, Notimex employees released an open letter in which they denounced “the more than 100 unjustified firings” that occurred at the news agency.
Notimex management said “the terminations were agreed to, in all the cases, with the ex-employees,” adding that the company “has implemented a layoff program in accordance with the realities” in Mexico.
“At Notimex, it is clear that in a country with more than 50 million poor people, it is unacceptable for public servants, unionized or not, to enjoy all kinds of privileges and benefits,” the news agency’s management team said in a statement.
The journalists said they wanted to meet with the president as part of an effort to find a solution to the situation and would not leave until their demands were met.
In March, Notimex’s 20 foreign correspondents said the news agency had stopped paying them and publishing their work.
On Monday, the protesters called for action by the Public Administration Secretariat and the Attorney General’s Office.
The journalists said authorities should look into how 170 million pesos ($8.94 million) appropriated by Congress for Notimex had been spent.
The demonstrators also called for Martinez to appear before Congress to answer questions.
The Notimex director has always justified the layoffs on the basis of the austerity policy implemented by the Lopez Obrador administration.
Notimex, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding last year, began operating on Aug. 20, 1968, barely six weeks before Mexico City hosted the Summer Olympic Games.