MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Dozens of employees of Mexico’s state news agency Notimex launched a strike on Friday as the union battled deep spending cuts by the outlet’s director, a close ally of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Striking workers blocked access to Notimex offices shortly after midnight and were not allowing employees to enter, but the agency’s journalists were still working remotely, according to the head of the union Adriana Urrea.
The conflict follows months of discord fanned by the firing of dozens of Notimex staff, who denounced the decision and have criticized the head of the agency, Sanjuana Martinez, who was tapped a year ago by Lopez Obrador.
During his first full year in office, Lopez Obrador has pushed broad austerity cuts across the government while committing to avoid tax hikes or taking on new debt as the economy has sputtered.
In a post on its Twitter account early on Friday, Notimex refused to recognize the strike, arguing that a notary did not formally certify it.
Urrea, however, said the work stoppage was in compliance with all applicable laws, and she criticized Notimex management for failing to provide promised benefits to some employees while seeking to pressure workers to accept contract changes.
“It’s important to reestablish a dialogue between the company and the union, which is what broke down last year due to the arrival of (Martinez),” said Urrea, an ex-Notimex journalist who was fired last year.
Urrea said 241 Notimex workers have been fired since Martinez took over, an action the union is seeking to reverse.
The strike marks only the second time Notimex employees have walked out in the outlet’s 51-year history.
Reporting by Noe Torres, Abraham Gonzalez, Sharay Angulo and Adriana Barrera; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by David Gregorio