Scott Trust receives vote of no confidence in Manchester

Journalists at the Guardian Media Group‘s North West weeklies, recently hit by cutbacks, have declared a vote of no confidence in owners the Scott Trust.

The National Union of Journalists chapel for the six weeklies in South Greater Manchester – including the Stockport Express, Rochdale Observer, and Wilmslow Express – made the announcement this afternoon.

MEN Media, the Guardian Media Group’s North West division, last week announced 78 job cuts across its titles, plus the closure of offices in Accrington, Ashton, Macclesfield, Oldham, Rochdale, Rossendale, Salford and Wilmslow.

The Stockport office will stay open, but will not be used by journalists.

The NUJ chapel has written to the Scott Trust’s chair of trustees, Dame Liz Forgan, to inform her of the vote of no confidence.

The letter said: “Our members deplore the decision to make these sweeping job cuts, particularly the compulsory editorial redundancies – a first for MEN Media – which will affect around a third of the journalists working in the weeklies.

“We also condemn the decision to remove all local newspapers from their ‘patches’, which will not only have a devastating effect both on readership, and therefore profits, but also on the remaining staff, who face a complete overhaul of their terms and conditions without the benefit of additional pay.

“We believe this short-sighted decision will effectively obliterate the existence of popular titles, from the Rochdale Observer in the north to the Stockport Express in the south, in all but name.

“The chapel has passed this vote of no confidence in the Scott Trust as we feel these profit-driven decisions threaten the future of quality, independent journalism in the North West.

“As CP Scott said in his centenary lecture, which laid the foundation of the Trust’s values, a newspaper is ‘much more than a business’ as reflects the influences and life of a whole community.

“Part of the Trust’s present day role is to ensure these values are upheld throughout the GMG group. We feel this decision flies in the face of such values.”

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “We offer total support to our chapels in Manchester and the south-east who are fighting job cuts at Guardian Media.

“They are absolutely right to point out that the company is trampling all over the values laid down for the firm by founder CP Scott.”

The Guardian Media Group is also cutting 95 jobs in its Surrey and Berkshire division, closing titles, shutting offices, and turning the Reading Evening Post from five days a week to two days a week.

The Scott Trust, which also runs The Guardian and The Observer, was set up in 1936.

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