Union says staff at Archant print presses feel 'real anger' over planned closure

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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12 thoughts on “Union says staff at Archant print presses feel 'real anger' over planned closure”

  1. Having seen Archants shocking annual report covering 2018 its easy to see how bad things have become with all parts of the business failing so it’s no wonder they’re looking to offload costs and clawback any money they can to limit crippling losses.
    Despite the groundswell of bad feeling across the city about them pulling out and the loss of face with local business bodies they 100% won’t be reversing their decision.Their only concern is cutting costs and reducing overheads, not how they’re perceived or the number of loyal staff soon to be jobless,but when those making the decisions don’t live or have anything to do with the communities they don’t see the effects of the ill conceived strategies they’re implementing.

    It’s a done deal with, in my opinion, all 95 roles going (none of the staff will be prepared to travel to Hertfordshire to work)
    A suicidal decision badly handled by a board desperate to reduce overheads despite the result being dozens of local people out of a job and further copy sales losses as locals vote with their feet.

  2. There will be no rethink or U turn , it’s a done deal.

    This is a classic Archant HR tactic to offer alternate positions hundreds of miles away knowing no one will take them so they can claim jobs were available but those affected didn’t want them, a sign of how desperate things are when they use underhand smoke and mirrors in an attempt to mislead the public to try to limit fall out which has been immense and will cause long term damage to their reputation and credibility with local people.

    It’s also Incredible that Archant,a company once highly regarded by the public and a place where people were proud to work ,has been so badly run and slow to react to a change and new competition that its finally reduced to selling off its core assets: it’s district offices, head office and now the presses themselves, just to raise funds to replace that wasted by incompetent senior managers.

    When you think Eastern Counties Newspapers (Archant) was a company founded on printing newspapers and providing the best,most relevant local news service to the county, now does neither it underlines the urgent need for changes at the top to remove senior managers who are out of their depths and clueless and are responsible for the dire situation the company finds itself in.

    Good luck to the many people soon to be made redundant.

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