The National Union of Journalists today claimed newspaper publisher Newsquest froze pay, slashed 800 UK jobs and closed its pension scheme last year despite achieving a 15 per cent profit hike to £82.5m.
The union said the £10.8m rise in operating profits was included in the 2010 accounts for the parent company Gannett UK.
While it saw a 7.2 per cent drop in turnover to £339.3m, the NUJ claimed the profits boost was down to a ‘massive attack on the overall wages bill’which fell by £15m.
Gannett UK’s headcount dropped below 5,000 after 800 posts were cut. The union said pre-press and print jobs were hardest hit with a 47 per cent reduction to 462, while editorial numbers fell by 36 roles to 1,573. The NUJ claimed a total of £2.9m was paid out in redundancy pay, £300,000 less than in 2009.
The highest paid director, which the union indicated was likely to be chief executive Paul Davidson, made £612,405 in 2010 compared with £609,385 in 2009.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The Newsquest cuts and editorial job losses announcement at Worcester division adds to the endless attacks and squeeze on workers living standards and price paid by media workers who produce Newsquest and Gannett profits.
‘This multi-national company lacks the vision to seize opportunities for growth and fails to recognise hard-working staff are the business’ best assets. Our members at Newsquest have showed their courage and determination in challenging the cuts-for-profit media ownership model over the last financial year.”
NUJ Northern & Midlands Organiser Chris Morley said the figures show ‘while extremely hard-pressed staff are being told to take on more work from their sacked colleagues, pushed to take unpaid holidays, tighten their family’s belt on a stagnating salary and do without a proper fund for retirement, those at the very top are still doing very nicely.
He added: “As usual Newsquest shares very little financial information with staff and having seen the real picture in the accounts we know why – things are not as desperate as the bosses would like to make out.”
Chief executive Paul Davidson was unavailable for comment.