18 July 2016
At the start of the year, Argentinian newspaper Tiempo Argentino (http://www.tiempoar.com.ar/) was led into bankruptcy by its old bosses. After four months of conflict, 125 workers set up the Por Más Tiempo cooperative, taking on the challenge to continue with the huge print run of newspapers every Sunday, supplied to kiosks across the capital and Greater Buenos Aires: their slogan, “Bosses of our words”.
“This new initiative is the result of a long drawn-out period of fighting – we’re filled with renewed strength and full of expectations. It presents us with a solution in terms of income: after all, the most important thing is for people to keep their jobs”, says an enthusiastic Randy Stagnaro, current secretary of the worker cooperative.
An assembly formed the cooperative Por más Tiempo (For More Time, in English) before the Instituto Nacional de Asociativismo y Economía Social (INAES) (National Institute of Associativism and Social Economy, in English). After a four month battle with a management who drained the company and left a significant debt in salaries, the workers have decided to come together publish an edition every Sunday. The newspaper will be printed by the graphics cooperative Patricios, also a recuperated company, in the Argentinian neighbourhood of La Boca. There will also be an online version published daily.
The cooperative members have set up a subscription service. “Behind the newspaper there aren’t businesses, political parties, or governments: there are journalists, photographers, designers, and other workers who’ve decided to protect the newspaper and their jobs” he explained from the editorial office.
Christian Miño, President of the Confederación Nacional de Cooperativas de Trabajo (CNCT), (National Confederation of Worker Cooperatives, Argentina, in English), said “this initiative is without doubt a major leap for the workers who’ve decided to go on the offensive, claiming back the space the newspaper represented for all Argentinians”. The Confederation accompanied the workers on their first steps forward, through its federations Fadiccra, Facta and Red Colmena.
Adrián Murano, Editor in Chief, reflected on the times Argentinians are going through with the new Mauricio Macri government. “There’s a deliberate decision to direct the public agenda with determined cuts, we now see coordinated efforts between the government and the media in Argentina: it’s political editorial cutting”, he said. “Tiempo Argentino is breaking free of this stifling corset, with its own view: the one it’s always had since it began, without trying to have a monopoly on any truth. On such a significant day for democracy we must confirm that this can only happen with a plurality of voices. Democracy needs debate in society, it must be continuous, and that can only happen if there are many different ways of accessing the multiple interpretations of reality and the facts: because the news doesn’t only manipulate the facts, it hides them”.
The editorial office
In the last few weeks, it has come to light that SPF3, owner of the property where the newspaper runs its operations, is unwilling to arrive at an agreement allowing workers to rent the space.The company has issued an early eviction notice through its lawyer, Martin Davicino, to vacate the building which houses not only the newspaper, but also the Radio América studios.
The cooperative had offered to rent the space, located in Palermo district of Buenos Aires, for a year, but now faced with the eviction of the rest of the building they will have to leave. Members expect to be looking at a time-frame of six months.
“In light of such a prolonged conflict, the sudden urgency shown by the owners of the building for us to leave is telling” says the cooperative. “This is in stark contrast to the patience shown towards the owners of Tiempo Argentino and Radio América, Sergio Szpolski and Matías Garfunkel, who violated the terms for almost a year by not paying rent”.