Journalists condemn fire and rehire tactics at Newsquest

  • 28 Jun 2021

NUJ members throughout the company are appalled but also bemused as to why Newsquest is choosing to take such an extreme measure.

The NUJ Newsquest chapel has agreed the following statement:

"This Newsquest group chapel condemns the use of fire and rehire tactics at the Oxford Mail to force through cuts to members’ terms and conditions. Stripping journalists of bank holiday payments in the wake of a year when they have pulled out all the stops to serve their local communities is disgraceful and has piled stress and anxiety onto a newsroom already facing reduced staffing levels and unacceptably long working hours.

"The treatment of staff in Oxford symbolises a failed duty of care to journalists and journalism at the centre. The practice of fire and rehire has been roundly condemned by trade unions and politicians, has no place within Newsquest, and should be banned.

"We also note that chief executive Henry Faure Walker was awarded an MBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to 'regional journalism and charity'. In accepting the award, Mr Walker said: 'The real recognition should go to the amazing people that work in local news publishing across the UK.' We believe that the actions of Newsquest in Oxford are detrimental and damaging to regional journalism and that Mr Walker should practice 'charity begins at home' and immediately end this unethical employment practice in his company.

"The group chapel calls on Newsquest to -

    Withdraw the dismissal notices and work with the NUJ to resolve the dispute.
    Meaningfully address staffing and workload issues in the local centre."

Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ group chapel coordinator, said:

“Our members throughout Newsquest are appalled but also bemused as to why the company is choosing to take such an extreme measure as fire and rehire against their Oxford colleagues for such a small saving.

"The company is risking its reputation with the local community by deploying disproportionate measures to achieve so little and the fact that this controversial action is being used against hard-working local journalists sullies the award made to the chief executive for his services to regional journalism.

"There can be no legitimate place for fire and rehire tactics and our group chapel urges the company to engage in proper negotiations to resolve matters honourably rather than using this depressingly mean-spirited action."

Laura Davison, NUJ national newspaper organiser, said

"The support for our members in Oxford is substantial and significant. Newsquest’s use of fire and rehire against its journalists, many of them relatively new in their careers, has shocked other NUJ chapels and politicians and trades unionists in the local community. We thank everyone for their support and urge Newsquest to use this opportunity to outlaw fire and rehire within the company and meaningfully address the issues being raised by the local chapel to find a resolution to this dispute."

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