Thomson Reuters is facing its first major industrial dispute following the £8.7 billion merger last month as Thomson’s UK journalists voted to hold an official ballot for industrial action.
Before the merger the NUJ had official recognition and a majority of membership among journalists in both the Reuters and Thomson UK operations.
In a letter sent to management, members of the Thomson Financial News National Union of Journalists chapel said: ‘We are disappointed at the company’s continuing refusal to consider a voluntary redundancy programme as part of any job reduction package and their continuing insistence that compulsory redundancies must remain part of the mix.
‘We refute management assertions that journalists across both organisations lack the necessary skills or would be unable to learn the necessary skills to transfer to other posts in the context of the merger and insist that some clarity is given on plans for expansion as the position on this seems to have shifted considerably from David Schlesinger’s first address to staff at Thomson Financial News.
‘We also demand a retraining scheme to give all staff maximum opportunity to realise their potential within the enlarged organisation.
“Furthermore, we demand that all Reuters editorial managers should be immediately notified that the nine day fortnight and other benefits currently enjoyed by TFN staff have been recognised by David Schlesinger and Mark Sandham as part of our legally binding terms and conditions and that the said managers should refrain from any attempts during job interviews to remove this right.”
The chapel says it has voted ‘unanimously’to hold industrial action but said that it would still like to return to the negotiating table.
In an interview with Press Gazette in March, editor in chief of Reuters News Schlesinger said: ‘One plus one will not equal two. We have to look at areas where we overlap.”
In response to news of the planned strike ballot he said in a statement: “We have only been Thomson Reuters for two weeks now and due to regulatory restrictions it has not been possible to make any decisions on specific staffing needs anywhere in the company, including editorial. Once we have decided what staffing will be necessary and where we will consult with the unions on the best way forward. We are proud of our editorial heritage and remain fully committed to its ongoing success.”