NUJ threatens strike action at Newsquest's Glasgow titles

Staff at the Glasgow Evening Times, Herald and Sunday Herald have threatened to strike if the company imposes any compulsory redundancies after owners Newsquest announced 40 job cuts last week.

National Union of Journalists members at the titles met yesterday to discuss what action to take after what the union said was the fourth round of cuts since 2003 when the titles were bought by Newsquest, owned by US publishing giant Gannett.

Staff were told last week that the job cuts, 20 of which are in editorial positions, are due to ‘poor trading conditions’but they are also thought to be related to the introduction of a new editorial production system

Ian Bruce, NUJ father of chapel at The Herald, said: ‘Staff are sending out an unequivocal message – that we can’t afford any further cuts to our operations without inviting a disastrous impact on quality.

‘This company’s only commitment is to the pockets of US shareholders at the expense of Scottish jobs. The chapel has made it clear [that] if there is a move toward a single compulsory redundancy then we will automatically call for a ballot for industrial action.”

The NUJ’s newly installed president, James Doherty, who works for Glasgow City Council, said at the meeting: ‘Five years ago, Newsquest gave a commitment to the Competition Commission that it would invest in jobs and journalism in Scotland.

‘Management claim that they are making savings because of a decline in advertising revenue and circulation. We would argue that if you invest in your product, readers will stay loyal along with advertisers.

‘But Newsquest seems more interested in a business model which squeezes the very life out of some of Scotland’s most famous titles.”

He said that in the last five years, The Herald had seen its editorial staff cut from 186 to 113, despite the Glasgow papers making Newsquest £17.1m.

The union is planning to write to every Scottish MSP, MP and local councillor to ask for their support in its campaign to stop job cuts.

Last summer NUJ members staged two walk-outs and imposed work to rule conditions as part of a long-running dispute over nearly 90 redundancies, one compulsorily.

Newsquest Glasgow managing director Tim Blott was not available at the time of going to press.

In a statement released last Friday, Blott said: ‘We will be discussing with our staff and trade unions the effects of these changes but I am confident that… the Herald & Times Group is well-equipped for a successful future.”

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