Guardian journalists remain unconvinced by the publisher’s strategy to cut costs, which they deem a “panicked reaction” to losses brought on by Covid-19.
They said the proposals “undermine” Guardian Media Group’s claim to be a good employer and called on it to “support, rather than hinder” staff in their efforts to publish trusted journalism as the pandemic continues.
Members of the publisher’s National Union of Journalists chapel passed a motion on Wednesday with their latest reaction to Guardian Media Group’s plan to cut 180 jobs, of which about 70 are likely to be journalists.
Staff in two of the most affected editorial departments – sport and the Saturday supplements – have already argued against the proposals and urged management to use more of the £954m Scott Trust Endowment Fund to get through the Covid-19 crisis instead of making large-scale redundancies.
The new NUJ motion makes a similar case, saying: “We are not convinced by the company’s strategy, which we believe will alienate readers and erode the quality of our journalism.
“The review also ignores the potential for a small proportion of the company’s endowment fund to allow for voluntary redundancies to be the first option in any review of staffing levels.
“We call on the company to offer voluntary redundancy to all staff at risk, we further ask the company to look again at the need to impose such swingeing cuts so quickly during the pandemic.”
The motion said commercial staff put at risk had not been offered voluntary redundancy, meaning the company was “forcing loyal employees out of a job in the midst of a pandemic”.
About 110 jobs put at risk were in the advertising, Guardian Jobs, marketing and Guardian Live departments.
Staff said the imposition of any compulsory redundancies “undermines” GMG’s claim to be a good employer per its “living our values” commitment and B-Corp certification, which means it is legally obliged to balance purpose and profit and consider the impact of its decisions on its workers, customers and the environment..
Staff said in the motion: “We believe the company’s panicked reaction to the losses incurred during the Covid-19 lockdown has resulted in a rushed review of the company’s resources and a cost cutting programme that pays little regard for its values or B-Corp membership in the way it seeks to cut jobs.”
The NUJ chapel also used the motion to thank readers for their “incredible support and solidarity” and “commit to continue providing them with the high quality, trusted journalism they need in these difficult times for as long as we can”.
“We call on the company to support, rather than hinder, its staff in this endeavour.”
A Guardian News and Media spokesperson declined to comment but has previously said: “In order to ensure the Guardian is financially sustainable and delivers the journalism that best serves our readers and their interests, we are having to make some difficult decisions.”
In July, the publisher said the Covid-19 pandemic had taken £25m off its forecast revenues for the next year.
Despite deferring a company-wide pay rise, making use of the Government’s job retention scheme, reducing the size of the executive committee, reducing the use of casual staff, and cutting marketing, travel and other budgets, staff were told GMG faced “unsustainable annual losses in future years unless we take decisive action”.