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Newsquest to cut swathes of jobs in North West

18 August 2011

Newsquest has announced plans to axe swathes of jobs in the North West of England. The NUJ has condemned the plans and, in response,  the NUJ chapel will be holding an urgent meeting of members to discuss the proposals.

The proposals involve the plans to cut 3 sub editors out of 12; one in three reporters in the three offices affected and one in six photographers.

Warrington staff will be hit hard as previous staff have left Newsquest earlier this year and have not been replaced – if another reporter goes the reporting pool in Warrington will have been halved in six months. It also appears that only editorial is affected by the cuts.

The announcement takes place at the height of the holiday season and only allows for 30 days for consultation.

The 2010 accounts for Newsquest North West show:

  • Operating profits of £6.7m (down £577k or just 7.9% from the previous year)
  • After tax, the company still made a profit of £5.03m in 2010 against £5.4m in 2009 (page 5)
  • The accounts also show that staff costs fell by nearly £600k in the year (page 9).

Chris Morley, NUJ northern and midlands organiser, said:

"The announcement today has stunned our members in Warrington, Sale and Northwich as it came unheralded. It is highly regrettable that the company did not seek to engage with our chapel well ahead in a bid to find other, less damaging ways forward before it was too late and business trends became unacceptable in the company's eyes.
"As it is, we have discovered that Newsquest's North West business actually got off relatively lightly last year given the profit fall was less than 8%. Now the company has chosen to drop out its devastating news to employees at the height of the holiday season when people affected by the decision are away for their annual break.
"If the company is serious about engaging properly with their staff in the consultation over possible redundancy, it must immediately rethink the period of time it has allowed and extend it to ensure no individual is placed at an unfair disadvantage. We will be working hard to ensure our members are protected from the worst effects of this plan and putting the company's rationale under the microscope of scrutiny."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"The unemployment figures released by the Office of National Statistics yesterday show a sharp rise in unemployment yet the government has repeatedly pointed to job creation by the private sector as reassuring news in the face of the economic slowdown.
"The treatment of our members by private sector media owners shows a slash and burn approach to people's jobs and livelihoods which is simply unfair and unacceptable. Lots of people are now losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
"Newsquest's motivation is primarily to make excessive profits for the few who are Gannett's American shareholders and the US-based board. Newsquest, Gannett and the government need to realise the only way out of the economic meltdown is to ensure that private sector media owners invest in local communities and produce high quality news."

Tags: , gannett, regional newspapers, local newspapers, subeditors, newsquest, warrington, newspapers, profits, cuts