Major strike threat as Glasgow newspapers are 'cut to the bone'

The Newsquest Glasgow joint chapel is gearing up for what could be "the most major industrial action" in Scotland for nearly 20 years over proposed £3 million savings at the company's Scotland division, according to NUJ vice president James Doherty.

The conference agreed and supported the chapel of The Herald, Sunday Herald and Glasgow Evening Times in its decision to pass a vote of no confidence in both Newsquest Scotland chief executive Tim Blott and Newsquest management of the three titles. ADM also supported any action that might need to be taken to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Doherty said: "Newsquest has been a fairly unknown entity in Scotland, but we now understand what a dreadful employer it is. It wasn't too long ago that we found ourselves under threat when Newsquest essentially tried to steal 2 per cent of our salary by moving the dates we were paid on. We stood firm and managed to resist that.

"Now they are back, trying to find £3 million worth of savings. Last year our division made £19 million profit.

Management has the audacity to get the staff together and ask them to come up with the savings and gave us a week to do it.

"Our director says that is 100 jobs.

We can't have any more [cuts]— we are already cut to the bone. We will need your support when we take probably the most major industrial action that Scotland has seen for the past 15 years."

Scottish organiser Paul Holleran isdue to meet Blott this week.

He said: "They have implied that they want two- to three-million-pound cuts, that could mean 100 jobs are at risk, and if that's the case, there will be war. If they demand compulsory redundancies, the ballot will be triggered. We are also in the middle of an election and we are lobbying for political support to protect The Herald and Sunday Herald as national papers. They're not local papers and shouldn't be turned into local papers through cuts.

In 1989, the Aberdeen Press and Journal began a year-long strike over union derecognition at Thomson Regional Newspapers.

NUJ: Key Facts

Performance from 1 October 2005 30 September 2006

•The union has net assets of £4,918,698. This sum is reached when all the NUJ's funds are consolidated and includes branch funds (£202,428), the fighting fund (£1,143,460) and, new this year, the Headland House building fund (£100,000).

• The General Fund (subs and all other income less all expenditure) stood at £3,472,796, down by £360,000 from the end of 2004/05. For the first time for a number of years, the union had an operating deficit of £23,000.

• Membership At the end of 2005/06 membership was just over 38,000 – 15,280 women , 22,814 men. Of these only 70 per cent (around 28,500) are full subs paying members.

NUJ membership breakdown: Books: 1,132 Broadcasting: 5,665 Freelance: 7,079 Magazines: 2,986 National Newspapers: 3,356 New Media: 305 News Agencies: 493 PR: 1,779 Regional newspapers: 5,804 • General secretary Jeremy Dear was paid £56,422 salary and £5,099 benefits. The deputy general secretary John Fray was paid £51,649.

• The cost of the Annual Conference 2006 was £172,354, up from £134,125 in 2005.

The Legal Assistance to members cost went down from £378,301 in 2005 to £353,117 in 2006.

Source: NUJ annual report, for the year to September 2006

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