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Newsquest plans more cuts in Lancashire

7 May 2009

Journalists in northwest England have reacted with anger to plans by Newsquest to create a centralised hub and seek around ten compulsory redundancies.

Five sub editors, four IT staff and some pre-press workers will lose their jobs when production journalism is moved from Bolton to Blackburn. Some of the work being transferred was only moved to Bolton earlier this year.

For the first time in the northwest, the company are not asking for volunteers for redundancy but moving straight to a selection for the jobs to be axed.

NUJ members are concerned that those who stay may be offered new contracts on inferior terms, as happened at Newsquest Glasgow.

These redundancies will be made on the new terms the group announced would come into effect last month. This involves the statutory minimum payouts or an enhanced scheme worth around half or three quarters of previous redundancy packages.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern Regional Organiser, said:

"Journalists working for Newsquest in the northwest are punch drunk from the endless rounds of cost-cutting. They have been asked to take pay cuts, unpaid holidays, round after round of redundancies and forced to move from office closures.
"Only a matter of weeks ago, journalists at Bury were evicted from their base in the town to move to Bolton. With journalists having moved heaven and earth to achieve this and keep the papers coming out, now the company kicks them in the teeth with a plan to separate the creation and production of news with yet another move.
"NUJ members are fed-up with the callous disregard shown by Newsquest to them but also their readers and the communities their papers serve. We shall be opposing compulsory redundancies and the vicious attempts to dismiss good journalists on measly terms."

David Thomson, Father of the Newsquest Bolton and Bury chapel, said:

"It is very disappointing that management have removed normal terms of reference which was the voluntary route and are instead immediately going into a compulsory redundancy situation.
"Given the fact the company has also announced reduced terms, the situation leaves a lot to be desired."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, said:

"There was big community opposition when the Bury Times staff were moved to Bolton – now some of the work is being moved even further away.
"Newsquest just don't care about local people, local journalism or journalists. The NUJ will support our chapels in Lancashire if they decide to oppose these moves."

Tags: , newspapers, newsquest, cuts, redundancies, local newspapers, bolton, blackburn, glasgow, closure, bury times