Trade union Unite has said it will campaign against Archant’s plan to outsource the printing and distribution of all of its newspapers, putting up to 96 jobs at risk at its in-house printing facility.
Unite claimed there is a “real disappointment” among staff that newspapers such as the Eastern Daily Press will no longer be printed locally in Norwich after the Thorpe Print Centre shuts next month.
It also accused Archant of misleading customers with its claim that the “majority” of staff will be moved elsewhere.
Printing of Archant’s more than 50 regional newspaper titles will move to Newsprinters, a subsidiary of News UK, in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, 109 miles from the £40m Thorpe facility, which will be left idle.
The distribution of Archant’s Norfolk and Suffolk titles, also previously in-house, will be taken over by Menzies and Smith News.
Archant, whose titles including The New European and East Anglian Daily Times, told staff last month the move would provide “substantial cost savings” as it continues to invest in digital.
It said the majority of jobs at Thorpe will transfer to one of the three new suppliers under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations, although staff were told there may be redundancies.
However Unite has said it is expecting 96 job losses, claiming there is “real anger” from staff that Archant management has “misled customers” to believe workers’ employment would transfer with the work.
Unite regional officer Mark Walker said: “This is a real slap in the face for the dedicated workforce – many of whom have been with the company for over 20 years.
“We are hoping to mobilise public opinion in a campaign to save these jobs and ensure that there is a vibrant ‘mixed’ economy for Norfolk in the years ahead.”
The campaign has already received support from Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Unite also called the planned closure a “bitter blow” to the economy in Norfolk.
Walker also said: “There is real disappointment amongst a loyal workforce at Archant that the printing of local newspaper titles will be carried out over 100 miles away in Hertfordshire – the Eastern Daily Press has been printed in Norwich since the 1870s.”
Archant has declined to comment beyond its original statement.
It said last month: “Continuing reductions in paginations and quantities of [Archant’s] newspaper portfolio has led the business to a review of the printing of its newspaper titles.”
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