NUJ says Evening Times morale is at all-time low

By Jean Morgan

The NUJ chapel at the Evening Times, Glasgow, has accused the newspaper’s owner, SMG, of bullying and using a performance management scheme to target individual journalists.

But managing director Des Hudson has told Press Gazette he is still waiting for substantive evidence of such instances after two years of asking.

A mandatory meeting of the chapel last week resolved to send Hudson a motion, copied to editor Charles McGhee, saying that morale had hit an all-time low at the paper, despite consultation over the past two years. The chapel alleged bullying and that “People Plus” – monitoring staff and setting them goals – has been used to target certain members of staff.

McGhee: all staff should work at Christmas

The chapel claimed: “We believe People Plus is being used intentionally to create an appearance of failure in individuals.”

The chapel asked for assurances that the issue would be resolved urgently and also asked for a meeting about McGhee’s proposal to change working practices over the Christmas and New Year period and at election time in April.

For almost 30 years, it has been custom and practice at the paper for journalists to split holidays over Christmas and New Year between themselves. Now they are all being asked to work over these periods.

Assurances have been made on previous occasions that the issues would be addressed, said the chapel, but have not been carried out.

Alan Caldwell, the paper’s FoC, said: “I can confirm there was a strength of feeling at the chapel meeting which led to a couple of motions being passed. They reflect the concerns of the members and we will see what transpires in meetings with management before Newsquest moves in.”

Newsquest is due to take control of SMG in April if its deal to buy the company is approved by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Hudson had already scheduled a meeting to speak with the NUJ this week before he received the motions.

The company had responded, he said, but added: “The motion that makes allegations of targeting and bullying is both inaccurate and unhelpful. We have had a series of discussions with NUJ officials, including the FoC from the Evening Times, over two years, where we have been asking them to give us substantive information about any assertions or concerns they have. And, as of today, I am still waiting for any information we would have the opportunity to consider.

“I have made it clear to the unions we are always ready to sit down and look at any concerns if they can put solid information in front of us – if they are just bandying around assertions and allegations, it doesn’t help anybody.”

Jean Morgan

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