Newsquest asked to come clean on plans to shift Barrow Mail staff 30 miles away in Kendal
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18 July 2018
The NUJ is calling on Newsquest management to come clean over their real intentions for The Mail at Barrow-in-Furness after the company told staff it wanted to shift its reporters more than 30 miles away in Kendal.
David Coates, Newsquest North managing director, claimed last week it was “complete cobblers” to suggest The Mail was leaving Barrow and said that it was currently hiring reporters there. But Jonathan Lee, the local managing director, told a meeting of the staff liaison council that the plan was to split staff with reporters and newsdesk and sales reps being based from Kendal. Sub-editors and a handful of non-editorial roles would remain at the Abbey Road site which Newsquest has already confirmed it is looking to move from.
Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands senior organiser, said:
“The communication of the company’s intentions has been a car crash mess and is causing untold stress and concern. We do not believe management is being straightforward and open with staff and that job losses are potentially involved here. The loss of reporting staff to be based an hour’s drive away in another town with an entirely different culture would be astonishing, even for Newsquest, and be severely damaging to The Mail’s hard-won reputation and credibility in a tight-knit community like Barrow.
“The impact on staff would be devastating and cause massive disruption. The plan as it stands threatens jobs and therefore Newsquest must now properly consult with the NUJ as the recognised trade union as is its legal duty. We want to fully engage over these proposals but can only do so if we know the full extent of the plan for the Barrow operation. So Newsquest must come clean and be honest about the future there. We need to be told when a new site in Barrow will be operating, when The Mail will be plugged in to Newsquest software and IT, and how many and which staff will be based there. Our fear is that it will merely be a satellite office to maintain a token presence in the town. I would be delighted to be proved wrong.”
The Mail NUJ chapel said:
"The biggest criticism of The Mail is that not enough local news is being covered. That will obviously be made worse if reporters are, in the main, based 45 minutes away from Barrow. Newsquest seems set on destroying all hope of ever having a strong daily newspaper in South Cumbria again. Staff were dismayed prospect of having to uproot their lives in less than three weeks' time, now they just want to know what Newsquest's plans are."