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Strike ballot called as yet more job cuts announced on Scottish Newsquest titles

26 August 2015

Journalists working on the Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald have voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action, including strike action, following Newsquest's announcement that it is to cut editorial jobs by 20 per cent on the Herald & Times group.

Up to 20 jobs could be affected. This is the third round of redundancies in the group in the past ten months.

The Scottish announcement is the latest round in Newsquest's summer of sacking with jobs also going in Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Bournemouth.

The newspaper group also announced it intends to implement cuts of 20 per cent in the Romanes Group, its new acquisition. This small but successful publisher turned a deficit to a profit of over £4m in the past five years, using traditional methods of selling newspapers and advertising space.

The group, owners of the Greenock Telegraph, Dunfermline Press and titles across Ayrshire and the central belt, had not made any editorial redundancies in recent years, but now faces adapting to the Newsquest culture of meeting new budgets by cutting jobs and introducing damaging savings which will have a severe effect on editorial.

Paul Holleran, NUJ national organiser, said:

"This treadmill of redundancies cannot continue. I have told Newsquest it is not sustainable to keep cutting jobs without putting a robust alternative structure in place. In response they said they will be coming back to us later in the year for a fundamental restructure in editorial areas and they wonder why people are so angry. They should just seek an interested buyer and sell the titles if their plan is to shrink the business to nothing."

In a letter to the union, the company said "newspaper revenues are declining and there is a need to cut cost and increase efficiency". However staff said the current lack of efficiency, with many journalists working excessive hours because of serious problems with staffing levels, was a result of poor management.

An NUJ chapel meeting of staff working at The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald voted unanimously for a ballot for industrial action including strike action. Officials will now be travelling across Scotland to address chapels in the weekly titles based in Ardrossan, Clydebank and Dunfermline as well as the daily Greenock Telegraph. A similar response is expected.

Tags: , local newspapers, local news matters, newsquest, scotland, Romanes, evening times, sunday herald, Greenock Telegraph, Dunfermline Press, Ayrshire, Wiltshire, oxfordshire, herald scotland