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December 10, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:42am

Newsquest faces strike action in Scotland while it axes editor roles in Cumbria

By Freddy Mayhew

Journalists on Newsquest’s Scotland papers, including the Herald titles, have voted for strike action over staffing cuts, while in Cumbria the publisher has made a number of editors redundant.

Up to seven journalists at The Herald and Sunday Herald, based in Glasgow, have taken voluntary redundancy and will leave at the end of the year, it has been reported.

Herald chief reporter David Leask confirmed “a number of reporters, writers and editors are leaving The Herald at the end of the year,” adding: “I’m one of them.” Others said they would also go freelance.

Nearly 90 per cent of National Union of Journalists members at Newsquest Scotland who participated in a recent strike ballot voted in favour of industrial action, the NUJ has confirmed.

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Any action will affect the Herald titles, Glasgow Times (previously the Evening Times) and the National and Sunday National.

John Toner, NUJ Scotland organiser, said: “Such a firm vote in favour of industrial action demonstrates the strength of feeling among our members faced by yet another round of jobs cuts, and the increased workloads that reduced staffing levels bring.

“We have already begun constructive talks with Newsquest management, and we are confident that these will continue. I am in no doubt that the employer will take on board the anger and frustration that have been expressed through this ballot.”

A Newsquest Scotland spokesperson said: “Consultation is ongoing with the affected staff and we are actively working to avoid compulsory redundancies as much as we possibly can.”

They added: “Whilst we are disappointed that NUJ members are contemplating industrial action, constructive dialogue is ongoing with both the Union and staff.”

In Cumbria the BBC has reported that that six of Cumbria’s local newspapers, including daily the Carlisle News and Star, would share a single group editor rather than each have their own editor.

The NUJ has confirmed the cuts, which follow redundancies for three feature writer roles in Carlisle and one arts and leisure writer in Kendal.

The NUJ Carlisle Chapel has previously warned that the cuts would “damage our reputation in the community and therefore our business”.

Newsquest acquired the family-run CN Group, which previously owned the Cumbrian titles, last spring for an undisclosed amount.

A spokesperson for the regional publisher said: “We’re focused on ensuring that we have a sustainable business that can support local journalism for many years to come.

“Given the very substantial loss of advertising revenue to other digital advertising platforms, we’ve had to significantly restructure how we operate and work more efficiently across the business.

“Whilst these potential redundancies are regrettable, it means we can continue to invest in frontline reporters which are central to the continued success of our local news brands.

“In terms of CN Group, it is worth highlighting that CN was a loss making business when Newsquest acquired it – we have now put the business on a more sustainable footing.

“Newsquest also secured the pension benefits of CN Group employees, past and present, when it invested in the company.”

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