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Newsquest in Bolton backs down on compulsory redundancies

15 May 2009

Newsquest in Bolton have backed off from imposing compulsory redundancies after NUJ members refused to take part in the selection process. The company plans to centralise sub-editing for its Lancashire titles in Blackburn.

They have asked for volunteers for redundancy after originally announcing that they planned to axe journalists on the basis of a skills matrix.

NUJ members were already angry after the company moved the Bury Times to Bolton a few months ago. The decision to ship the work on again to Blackburn – with compulsory redundancies – was the last straw.

David Thomson, NUJ father of chapel at Newsquest Bury and Bolton, wrote to management:

"The chapel unanimously agreed that unless the company changes its mind and introduces a voluntary aspect to this redundancy proposal, we will seek a ballot for industrial action."
"Members also overwhelmingly decided not to co-operate with next week's scheduled skills analysis assessments. No sub-editor will attend any such meeting. We will not under any circumstances take part in an exercise, which contributes towards a person losing his or her job."

The company responded by agreeing to ask for volunteers.

Jenny Lennox, NUJ Assistant Organiser, said:

"We don't want any job cuts. We still think the Bury Times should be returned to the town where it was based for more than 150 years with enough staff to produce the quality paper that local people want.
"But the absolute bottom line is the chapel's refusal to accept the imposition of compulsory redundancies."

In Blackburn, where jobs are also under threat, the NUJ chapel has also delayed the redundancy process.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:

"I applaud the firm stand taken by the NUJ chapel at Bolton and Bury. And pledge the union's support to them and their colleagues in Blackburn. 
"While we oppose the current torrent of cuts it is still gratifying to note that all over Britain and Ireland NUJ chapels, with the support of our officials, are stopping compulsory redundancies, saving jobs, enhancing redundancy deals and winning pay rises and other concessions for those left behind.
"I would urge all journalists who are not members of the union to join our fight."

Tags: , newspapers, newsquest, lancashire, redundancies, blackburn, bury times, bolton, local newspapers, bury