Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The axe swings again

Those who thought Newsquest had already cut its York operations back to the bone were clearly mistaken. In the face of the economic downturn and anticipating a fall in its profits due to slacker advertising revenue, the company is once again planning to cut jobs.

We learned last Friday - a day after a regal visit from Newsquest chairman and chief executive Paul Davidson - that 18 of our colleagues are to be made redundant - nine van drivers, two cleaners, two printers and five pre-press staff. Today, just minutes before chapel reps were due to begin mediation with ACAS over our outstanding pay claim, management dropped a bombshell for the company's journalists.

Editor Kevin Booth told staff of plans to axe eight journalists' posts. A current reporting vacancy will not be filled, making a total of nine redundancies. No details were provided about which departments will be hit, but the editor said photographers, graphic artists and admin staff (all with virtually no union members) would be safe.

At a chapel meeting held later that day, members were rightly furious about the planned cuts, which are being replicated at Newsquest centres across the country. Two years ago, the company made nine editorial staff redundant but there was no decline in workloads, on the contrary. It seems we can expect the same scenario this time.

Chapel members committed themselves to opposing any compulsory redundancies and mounting a campaign to save quality local journalism in York and North Yorkshire, which we believe is being destroyed by Newsquest's slash and burn policies. We will be fighting for every one of our union colleagues who is under threat and making sure management engage in full assessment, consultation and representation as provided for in law.

We'll have more on our campaign soon...