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Corporate greed drives Newsquest Stourbridge cuts, says NUJ

12 September 2018

Further redundancies have been announced at the Newsquest Stourbridge centre where seven weekly titles and associated websites are produced. The cuts will affect the Kidderminster Shuttle, Stourbridge News, Halesowen News, Dudley News, Bromsgrove Advertiser, Redditch/Alcester Advertiser and Droitwich Advertiser.

Proportionate to the existing staffing levels, the latest Stourbridge proposals represents a huge cut in staff, and take place in a context where staff reporters were culled just over a year ago, and the Worcester-based group editor was made redundant in December 2017.

At the moment, the local NUJ chapel is assessing the potential alternatives available that could replace the company's existing plan.

Potentially six editorial jobs will be cut with two Audience and Content Editor roles being created, this may reduce the net staff redundancies to four.

At the same time, three senior reporters, out of a total of eight, have already given their notice and will be leaving the company in the coming weeks.

The union also understands that the company has given approval for a second apprentice to be taken on.

Chris Morley, NUJ senior national organiser, said:

"Our members have noted that in issuing its proposals for further dismissals among an already depleted and demoralised workforce at Stourbridge, the company merely talks about achieving 'efficiencies' rather than presenting a business case which spells out the financial imperative for axing more journalists’ jobs.

"Only last month, Newsquest’s US parent company Gannett, revealed it had pocketed more than $13 million in a windfall in the first six months of this year from its British subsidiary due to currency exchange fluctuations. So without any evidence to the contrary, we have to conclude the Stourbridge cuts and those also being announced around the company (group) are due to one factor alone: corporate greed.

"Newsquest newsrooms are staggering from one set of redundancies to the next with legitimate questions arising around the safety of heaping ever-increasing workloads and stress on remaining staff.

"The NUJ locally and nationally have continuously pressed to see Newsquest’s formal risk assessments when carrying out these cuts but has been met with a wall of silence. A responsible employer should have no problem about making this information available to show that lukewarm management reassurances about taking the health and safety of employees seriously can be matched with the reality for journalists at work.

"Our hard-working members at Stourbridge regard the latest cuts as a kick in the teeth for their heroic efforts to produce quality content for websites and newspapers on a daily basis. They also question the strategy of a supposedly 'digital first' company in looking to delete the role of digital editor.

"At some point sanity has to prevail and Newsquest and its US parent will turn away from its slash and burn strategy and instead look to reinvest their riches - instead of sacrificing more journalists' jobs to boost boardroom salaries and perks and line shareholders’ pockets to the detriment of the very business and communities they are charged to serve."

Tags: , newsquest, local news matters, newspapers, cuts, redundancies, gannett, stourbridge, kidderminster shuttle, stourbridge news, halesowen news, dudley news, bromsgrove advertiser, redditch advertiser, droitwich advertiser