Express Newspapers to axe more than 30 subs and introduce new “revolutionary” computer system

Up to 69 editorial production jobs could go at Express Newspapers as part of plans to introduce a new editorial system.

Staff at The Daily Express and Sunday Express have been told that up to 36 staff and 33 casual jobs could be axed when a new editorial system called Woodwing, is put in place to reduce costs at the Richard Desmond-owned newspapers.

In a letter to staff, group managing editor Ian Parrott said the system will allow the paper to ‘revolutionise the way pages are written and edited and therefore reduce costs”, blaming the credit crunch for the cutbacks.

‘The reason for these changes is that it is imperative for the business that substantial cost savings are made,” he wrote. “This is the only way we can maintain a viable business able to cope with the problems of the national economy and the credit crunch and its continuing effect on us; the substantial drop in our advertising revenues and the continuing drop in our circulation figures.”

The papers’ management met NUJ representatives last night and will meet them again at 4 pm today as part of a formal consultation process. Parrott also said there would be talks with the NUJ over a move to a five-day rolling shift operation.

Barry Fitzpatrick, newspaper national organiser at the NUJ, said: ‘It’s a complete shock to us, there was no hint they were considering this. What’s really disturbing is that for them to be so precise about these numbers and to have this system to be prepared to be installed means they must have been planning it for some time. They have done all this without any attempt to consult staff first.”

He added that the paper had experienced problems with editorial quality in the last 12 months, a reference to the Express Newspapers payout to the parents of Madeleine McCann over its coverage and a number of other legal actions in recent months. ‘They’re obviously quite happy to live more dangerously,” he said.

Insiders told Press Gazette there is concern that copy will be published without being viewed by subs. ‘That’s the worst case scenario,’a member of staff said.

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