Journalists at Telegraph Media Group NUJ chapel are to ballot for strike action over the axing of more than 30 casual staff and changes to staff contracts.
The union said that journalists on the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Telegraph.co.uk were ‘furious”after management cut off talks with the chapel over changes to staff contracts.
The company is changing the working shift patterns for many journalists, which will see a number production staff lose their nine-day fortnight in return for a one-off payment of £2,000.
All new editorial starters will have holiday entitlement cut by one week, the union claims, and members say they are unhappy that a previous agreement on work-life balance is being ignored.
TMG announced this week it would create an extra 40 jobs following the axing of casuals – many of them involved in hi-tech development of Telegraph.co.uk such as data mapping and interactive graphics.
A ‘resource centre’has been set up at the Telegraph’s offices for casuals to find work elsewhere and career consultants have been brought in to hold workshops.
NUJ National Newspapers Organiser, Barry Fitzpatrick, said: ‘Our members regret that they have been forced into this action by a company that is refusing to negotiate on matters that were already agreed under existing terms and conditions.
‘Bosses at the Telegraph are treating their staff with a shocking level of contempt. They seem to think they can simply ignore their workers’ employment rights and conceal this exploitation with the announcement of new jobs that will make scant difference to overall staffing levels.
‘On top of all this, they are demanding staff work extra hours without any proper consultation or improvement on their consolidated pay and are creating a two-tier workforce by offering new joiners inferior conditions. No wonder journalists have had enough.
‘Sadly, this disregard for our members’ loyalty and hard work seems to be a culture that has dominated the newsroom since the Barclay brothers bought the papers.’
The ballot opens on 4 September and closes on 18 September. According to the NUJ, the last strike at the Telegraph was in 1989 when a 36-hour walk-out by journalists led to a new deal on pay and a cut in the number of redundancies.
This is the fourth strike ballot held by journalists at the Telegraph titles since they were taken over by the Barclay brothers in 2004.