Thirty-six permanent employees out of fifty-four, i.e. two-thirds, signed a letter sent on January 9 to Serge Toubiana, president of Unifrance, Hervé Michel, vice-president, and Daniela Elstner, general manager of the association in charge to export French cinema and audiovisual, to alert them once again to the uneasiness within the team. For the signatories, the dismissal of one of their colleagues in charge of production for eighteen years “without disciplinary sanction or prior warning” them “shocks by its method: violent, unexpected, incomprehensible”.
After a preliminary interview, this dismissal for personal reasons took place on January 2, a week before Les Rendez-Vous de Paris, an important annual event for Unifrance. Right after sending his vows to this employee, Mr.me Elstner gave him his dismissal letter. This is, according to staff, the “a drop of water that crystallizes the problems reported” from August 2020.
In three years, fourteen departures have been recorded, including two redundancies, conventional terminations and one retirement. More or less voluntary separations. The signatories wonder when their turn will come and describe the “stress induced by this decision, in an already seriously deteriorated and heavy climate”.
“Fuzzy instructions, orders and counter-orders”
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Unifrance completed its merger with TVFrance Internationale, a merger desired by the National Center for Cinema and Animated Image (CNC), its main supervisory authority alongside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “A merger is never a long calm river”, testifies Sarah Hemar, audiovisual director of Unifrance. But “we are moving in the right direction, as shown by the very good figures for the export of audiovisual programs [376 millions d’euros en 2021, soit + 6 % par rapport à 2020] ».
For the first time since the creation of Unifrance in 1949, a strike movement took place, Thursday January 19
The changes go wrong. “We no longer understand the policy you have put in place since the merger”, complain the employees. Their letter highlights the deterioration of the social climate and management methods. Some ” feels[ent] denigrated by management. » The working methods are called into question, between “fuzzy instructions, orders and counter-orders”lack of consultation, “use of external service providers to duplicate the teams in place, shelving of certain permanent staff”.
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