Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentina’s center-right government has sacked more than a third of the employees of state news agency Telam in a restructuring of the company while blasting its use as a political tool by the previous leftist administration of Cristina Kirchner.
The agency’s management said the move, which will shed more than 350 of Telam’s 960 jobs, was part of an effort to “modernize and professionalize the company.”
The agency’s journalists went on indefinite strike on Tuesday, denouncing the “ideological cleansing” of workers who joined the agency under previous leftist governments.
Unions accused the government of President Mauricio Macri of trying to deliver a state media favorable “to capital concentrated in industry”.
“Like so many state agencies and companies, the agency we inherited was also a victim of the irresponsibility and mismanagement of the previous government which used the public service for the purposes of political support,” Telam’s management said in a statement.
The company’s board said that staff numbers at the agency doubled from 479 to 962 from 2003-15 under the governments of late president Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina.
The minister with responsibility for media, Hernan Lombardi, said the restructuring would ensure that Argentines would in future “receive objective, truthful and independent information” from Telam.
Macri, under pressure to reduce Argentina’s fiscal deficit to comply with a $50 billion IMF loan, is seeking to slash costs at state media companies Telam, Public TV and Radio Nacional.