A rift has emerged between the employees and management of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked by terrorists two months back. The row has been sparked by the new wealth generated by the magazine -- nearly 30 million euros ($32.9 million) -- after the January attacks, which claimed the lives of 12 of its employees.
Up until then, the magazine was selling only around 30,000 copies a week and was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Eleven employees have initiated a court case and have instructed their lawyers to convert the magazine into a workers’ cooperative, which would allow all of them to have an equal stake, the Times reported. They reportedly said that the magazine should be run by them because they risked their lives to work there.
“A new distribution of the capital would allow for the incredible influx of funds to the newspaper to be used in the most transparent manner possible,” Laurent Leger, one of the employees, said, according to the Times.
Patrick Pelloux, who writes a column for the magazine and supports the employees' demands, reportedly said, that a cooperative would also be more attractive for contributors. "When a company has been decimated, you feel completely tied to it. It is not a question of sharing the cake. The money does not interest us," he said.
The magazine is currently 40 percent owned by the parents of Stéphane Charbonnier, the former director of the magazine who was killed in the attacks, 40 percent by cartoonist Riss, who is recovering in hospital and 20 percent by joint manager Eric Portheault, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
One of the magazine’s staff, who did not support the group, said, "Charb's share isn't going to disappear if you're worried about that. Riss isn't going to leave with the till under his arm and Eric hasn't opened a Swiss bank account," the AFP reported.
A lawyer, who represented the magazine's management, told AFP: “All this money is doing more harm than good. ... Riss is still in hospital. Charb's share has been frozen by his heirs ... it makes you think of a funeral when the relatives are bickering over grandma's jewels on the way back from the cemetery."
"The donations are going to the victims' families. The proceeds from the sales are going into the magazine's coffers. They will be used to create a foundation, notably to teach freedom of expression in schools," the lawyer said.