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Newsquest's actions show "contempt" to staff and readers in London and the south east

Picket line at Sutton during the June strike  -  © nuj

9 November 2015

Newsquest is to move eight posts on its titles in south London to its production centres in Weymouth and Newport.
 
Gary Kendall, managing director Newsquest South, said redundancy would be available for those who do not want to move to Dorset or Wales. The transfer will take place in January and February. He said the move was to "improve operational efficiency within the business and save costs".

The titles involved include: the Surrey Coment, Richmond and Twickenham Times, News Shopper series and the Croydon, Sutton, Wandsworth and Wimbledon Guardian series
 
The company, which publishes 200 newspapers, magazines and trade publications including the Brighton Argus, Southern Daily Echo and Glasgow Herald, posted accounts reporting that Newsquest made £58.65m, pre-tax, despite revenue falling marginally by 3.2 per cent to £279.33m. Pay for directors increased by 3.9 per cent to £655,000.
 
A statement from the South London chapel, said:

"We regret Newsquest South London’s continued attack on experienced journalists and the constant erosion of what separates professional newsrooms from keen amateur blogs. These cuts were known in advance and some of the sub-editing team were allowed to take voluntary redundancy as part of that. This came into effect in July of this year.
 
"We question Newsquest’s priorities and believe this plan to be counter-productive. We are concerned about the detrimental effect this announcement will have on the newsroom, particularly the increase in workload for the editorial staff, and the drop in quality the loss of the sub-editing team will inevitably lead to.
"The loss in experience from the newsroom is immeasurable – many of the sub-editing team have many years of experience behind them and a wealth of knowledge about the areas we serve. We will now work closely with our members to ensure the best possible outcome for those involved."

The chapel voted for a 10-week strike over job cuts and pay in June. After eight days, the management agreed to come back to the negotiating table and a deal, which included paying trainees the London Living Wage, was agreed.
 
The strikers earned London-wide support from local and national politicians, including London mayor candidate Zac Goldsmith, who signed a early day motion proposed by Tania Mathias, Conservative MP for Twickenham, backing the NUJ members.
 
The London Assembly passed an emergency motion and a letter to Gary Kendall was signed by Valerie Shawcross for the Labour group, Darren Johnson for the Green group, Caroline Pidgeon for Liberal Democrat group and Andrew Boff for the Conservative group. It said the cuts posed "a real threat to democratic awareness and will undermine these local communities and business sectors. We need local papers of a reasonable quality to ensure democratic scrutiny, accountability and encourage an informed and active citizenship".
 
The letter expressed concern that some journalistic staff were paid below the London Living Wage and ended saying: "The London Assembly has a brief to promote the development and economic growth of London and such a damaging and irrational move such as this would be widely condemned and publically ridiculed."
 
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:

"The Newsquest cuts roll on. It beggars belief that this profit-making organisation continues to wrench experienced journalists from the heart of their local communities. Its actions show complete contempt to its staff and to its readers and they just don't make sense in any strategic way. This is a huge missed opportunity to keep subs jobs in London as part of the London-wide hub discussed during the earlier dispute.”

Tags: , local newspapers, local news matters, newsquest, newsquest south london, cuts, redundancies, newport, weymouth, subbing hub, london assembly