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Irish Times journalists call for review of Trust investments

29 June 2009

Journalists have called on the Irish Times Trust to review what NUJ members have described as the flawed investment and diversification policy of the company. The union says savings at the loss-making newspaper must be matched by an end to investment in projects that divert money away from the Trust's core purpose.

Balloting begins today on proposals to increase working hours at the newspaper. While the negotiating team has recommended acceptance of the proposal put forward by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), NUJ chapel officers have sent a strong message to governors of the Trust that runs the company and the board of the newspaper.

The chapel passed a motion last week saying that "ongoing investment in loss-making projects poses a serious threat to employment" at the newspaper. Investments include the ireland.com website, MyHome.ie, Metro Ireland, Gloss magazine, the Gazette newspaper group and new radio station 4FM.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, has written to Irish Times chairman David Went and David McConnell, chairman of the Irish Times Trust, setting out the concerns of the chapel. He said:

"The motion reflects the very real anger of NUJ members. Pay has been cut by 5 per cent for people earning between €40,000 and €100,000 and by 10 per cent for those earning more than €100,000.
"We agreed to recommend the LRC proposals because the alternative was redundancies and outsourcing. The Irish Times is run by an independent Trust and occupies a special place in Irish society.
"There is a clear onus on the Trust and Board to ensure that editorial resources are protected and that the core product, The Irish Times newspaper, is not put at risk through ill advised investments.
"During the golden era of the Celtic Tiger, pet projects were tolerated, but, in today's climate, these projects pose a real threat to the survival of the newspaper."

The LRC proposals involve a move from a 32-hour week to 37.5 hours and significant roster changes that would see many staff working additional shifts.

Tags: , newspapers, irish times, investments, ballot, lrc, irish times trust, ireland.com, myhome.ie, metro ireland, gloss magazine, gazette group newspapers, 4fm, economy, pay and conditions, negotiations