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Guardian/Observer journalists back local colleagues

20 March 2009

Journalists on the Guardian and Observer in London have backed colleagues on the local titles in their group who are fighting against massive job cuts and almost certain compulsory redundancies.

A joint meeting of NUJ members from the two national titles unanimously agreed a resolution that said:

"When the chapels in Greater Manchester, Surrey and Berkshire decide on a course of action, we will support them."

The motion also deplored the lack of consultation by Guardian Media Group (GMG) regional bosses and called for redundancy payments to be equal to those offered on the national papers.

GMG have announced plans to slash jobs on the Manchester Evening News and close all their weekly paper offices in the north west of England. In the south east, two paid-for weekly papers are to close and the Reading Evening Post is to reduce from five days a week to two.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, said:

"Management at Guardian Media have openly said they are sacrificing local papers to safeguard the Guardian.
"This divide and rule tactic has not worked. NUJ members will stand together to defend jobs and quality local journalism."

The full motion passed by the joint meeting of the Guardian and Observer chapels reads:

The redundancies proposed at the Manchester Evening News and the weeklies in greater Manchester amount to a collective redundancy of more than 100 (150 in fact), and together with the mooted redundancies at the Surrey and Berkshire newspapers, the total of proposed GMG redundancies is 245.

The Guardian and Observer chapels deplore the management's attempt to avoid its legal responsibilities. There must be 90 days' consultation. This time could be used to considers ways of ameliorating the situation and trying to ensure the survival of the papers and preserving quality. We would support the MEN and other regional chapels if it became necessary to take the company to an employment tribunal because of the lack of proper consultation.

We call on management to offer the journalists in Greater Manchester and on the Surrey and Berkshire newspapers the same enhanced redundancy terms as are available to Guardian and Observer journalists until June 30, namely four weeks' pay for every year's service up to £95,000, plus three months' pay in lieu of notice. This might well attract more volunteers for redundancy.

The Guardian and Observer chapels oppose compulsory redundancies. When the chapels in Greater Manchester, Surrey and Berkshire decide on a course of action, we will support them.

Tags: , newspapers, guardian news and media, manchester, surrey, berkshire, manchester evening news, reading post, guardian, observer, chapels, cuts, local newspapers, redundancies