Northcliffe bans NUJ from office meetings on job cuts

By Sarah Lagan

Northcliffe in Bristol has been accused of denying free speech by banning NUJ journalists from holding union meetings in the office to discuss job cuts.

Bristol Evening Post editor-in-chief Mike Norton said the redundancy consultation period was over and any further meetings should be held "away from company premises and out of company time".

Northcliffe also refused to allow NUJ lawyer Roy Mincoff into its Bristol headquarters to advise staff on new working arrangements.

Evening Post father of chapel Derek Brooks said: "For the company to deny its staff the right to discuss important issues on the premises is a basic denial of free speech."

Norton countered: "The redundancy consultation period is over in Bristol.

The work of the NUJ officials as consultative committee members has finished. In other words, they have no remit to deal with staff questions about the redundancy process.

"Despite that, and despite being asked not to, they called yet another ‘open staff meeting’ to discuss, among other things, ‘the latest on redundancies’.

They also invited a third party to that meeting — NUJ lawyer Roy Mincoff — without seeking the company’s permission. In Bristol, we have always been happy to provide a meeting room for the NUJ. The calling of this meeting was an abuse of that generosity."

?¡ Management at Archant Norfolk has refused to run an NUJ advert in its papers that highlights the possibility of 17 editorial jobs being axed there as well as claiming the parent company, Archant, earned £32 million last year.

The 260-word ad intended for the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News in Norwich says the union believed the cuts are "an attack on quality" and invites readers to write in opposing them.

Archant Norfolk managing director Barry Dennis said: "I can’t imagine that any newspaper in the land would carry this advert. It says the union believes the move is ‘an attack on quality’, but there’s no substantiation on that whatsoever.

"This review shows we have down time and it’s about using that down time more sensibly. We’ve published stories on the subject in both the papers with quotes from an NUJ spokesman."

There will now be two weeks of observation and data gathering with staff to find out where to make the cuts.

?¡ NUJ members at the Manchester Evening News have balloted for industrial action following last week’s shock announcement that up to 27 editorial jobs could be axed. They also passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in management at Guardian Media Group as well as the paper’s editor, Paul Horrocks.

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