Speaking to Daily News Egypt, Chairman of Board of Directors Mostafa Abdel Rahman said Dotmsr did not “expel the journalists”, but “laid them off in accordance with the labour law”.
According to Abdel Rahman, the dismissal was based on evaluations of the journalists’ work, assuring they will receive their two month salary for February and March.
“We need fresh blood instead of keeping people eternally,” the chairman said. He added that “at the end of the day, those journalists are our colleagues and we appreciate their efforts”, referring to the laid-off journalists, which he said were about 71 out of 400 employees.
Dotmsr, an Egyptian news platform founded in April 2014 with a fund from United Arab Emirates, had fired journalists from various departments on Friday.
Following their dismissal, the journalists released a statement demanding the expulsion of Dotmsr’s current editorial board, the formation of an independent financial committee to track the flaws and violations in the budget, and an official apology to the journalists that gives them the option to return to work at the media outlet.
The statement was posted by the syndicate for electronic journalism on its website. It said that, if the demands are not met within 48 hours, there will be an injunction against the directors board of Dotmsr to defend the right of the journalists.
One of the laid-off journalists, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, told Daily News Egypt: “I received a phone call from the HR department director during my work telling me ‘I am very sorry but you won’t be able to continue working for us but we will send the rest of your salary and for the next month as well’.”
“I soon realised there were 70 others who received the same phone call, some of them received it while they were in the middle of their reporting trips for the Book Fair”, he added.
According to the journalist, his department editor was also in shock as he did not know anything about the decision.
What angered the journalist was the sudden barring of access to emails and computers, the very same day the phone calls were received.
Furthermore, a meeting was held for the journalists where one of the editorial board members told them the decision was made “to cut some expenses”.
The fired journalists have sent official complaints to the Press Syndicate for what they claim to be “arbitrary expulsion”, but it remains unclear if any action will be taken in that regard.
Dotmsr’s board of directors’ chairman, Abdel Rahman, said a press syndicate member named Hisham Younis expressed his support of the decision and thanked the media outlet for it.
The journalists have created a closed group on Facebook to plan their next steps, one of the laid-off journalists told Daily News Egypt. They are also bringing the issue to the administration in the UAE.