The editor of The Scotsman has warned a strike could harm the title as staff at the newspaper began a ballot for action over compulsory job cuts.
In an email to all Scotsman employees seen by Press Gazette, Neil McIntosh said he was disappointed the National Union of Journalists had continued with the planned strike ballot on Wednesday because industrial action “risks harming the business”. He also accused the NUJ of not “articulating their concerns” in the dispute.
The union is calling on management to stop compulsory redundancies at The Scotsman and its sister title The Edinburgh Evening News, which were announced by parent company National World in June.
Ex-Local World boss David Montgomery bought all JPI Media titles including The Scotsman at the end of 2020 and has since launched several standalone city websites and a UK-wide news website called National World. The company has also fully rebranded from JPI to National World.
It announced last month that it planned to cut 30 roles from its legacy JPI titles as part of a wider business restructuring, with its Scottish titles seeing a large share of the cuts. A similar number of new jobs are being created.
Press Gazette understands McIntosh is currently on holiday as redundancy consultations take place at The Scotsman and The Edinburgh Evening News.
The strike ballot will go to 45 NUJ members at the two titles, out of a total of more than 60 editorial staff.
Long serving Scotsman Group journalists have reported being asked to put CVs together to document their achievements so management can decide on who should now face redundancy.
The ballot will also include staff working on smaller Scottish weekly titles owned by National World and is set to end by 10 August.
In an email to staff seen by Press Gazette, McIntosh said: “I’m disappointed to report that the NUJ has decided to press on with a ballot for industrial action… The NUJ’s full-time officers have done little to articulate their concerns. They’ve not offered an alternative way forward. The ballot itself does not clearly set out why industrial action is being called, or what the union hopes to achieve.”
He went on: “But, from talking to colleagues who have raised their concerns directly, I do understand the depth of feeling about the restructure and the potential for job losses that it brings.
“It is happening because we have to protect the longer-term sustainability of our business. This is not something restricted to National World: the challenges we face – alongside our readers and our advertisers – are universally shared across our industry… I understand the upset and uncertainty these processes create. But moving to industrial action risks harming the business.”
NUJ national organiser for Scotland John Toner said: “Our members have faced many rounds of redundancies over the past decade, severely reducing staffing levels and increasing workloads.
“Compulsory redundancies are a red line for our chapel, which is why members have chosen to ballot for industrial action.
“We believe that it is still possible to ensure that any redundancies are voluntary, and we will continue to represent members through the consultation process in an effort to achieve that.”
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