PunaMusta Media, publisher of the newspaper Karjalainen and seven other titles, announced 24 March that it would be starting redundancy negotiations with all 650 of its employees. The aim is to impose layoffs lasting 90 days. The corporation explained that the move has been prompted the economic fallout due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On 27 March, three days after the announcement, PunaMusta Media held its annual meeting, where it decided to disburse a dividend of over €3-million to its shareholders. The dividend is four times larger than the corporation’s operational turnover for last year.
“It’s a reckless decision and, for the employees being laid off, obscene,” said UJF president Hanne Aho.
“At the same time the corporation is disbursing dividends by emptying the financial buffer created over many years and which it would not make sense to put to use.”
The company has distributable funds of over €26-million, corresponding to about a year’s pay for all its employees.
“You can’t disburse dividends when there are layoffs. The corona crisis also makes the decision completely irresponsible. A limited liability company should ensure that it is able to continue to operate normally after the payment of dividends. Now the future is blurred,” Aho explained.
“Hundreds of the company’s employees now face serious uncertainty about their work and livelihoods.”
Other media houses have also warned of layoffs. The UJF has appealed to media companies to share their burden of responsibility during the crisis.