At JPIMedia, NUJ's priorities are wellbeing & financial security of members
The company has announced it will furlough around 65 of its journalists and cut pay
The NUJ has asked JPIMedia to sign up to a framework setting out the approach to be taken while some staff are on furlough and those that remain in work are subject to reduced salaries.
It follows the commitment made by the company to the NUJ on Wednesday 1 April that it will continue to engage with the union's officials and reps at this critical time.
The assurances were given as the JPIMedia announced to staff that was furloughing around 50 of its journalists as part of a wider scheme and cutting the pay of many of those still being asked to work. It has since confirmed that approximately 65 FTE editorial staff have been placed on furlough.
Michelle Stainstreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"JPIMedia NUJ reps and members are to be praised for their swift response to the this crisis and the reasoned proposals to address it which have been tabled to the company. We are urging the company's management to engage seriously with these and to sit down with the union and discuss them.
"At this very difficult time, the trade union has a critical part to play in how companies navigate through this crisis. Engaging with members and addressing the very real issues of anxiety and hardship they are raising will lead to a more sustainable and human response. We urge JPIMedia to play its part.
"Responses to questions raised by our members have now been received and the next step is to sit down and discuss the broader approach. We are keen to do this as soon as possible."
Union reps from across the company took part in a JPIMedia group chapel conference call on Wednesday evening to identify the key areas of concern being raised by members in their workplaces. They agreed a number of priorities for discussion with the company, which form part of the proposed framework.
They have also been working to support individual members who are concerned about the financial impact of the measures taken by the company.
Georgina Morris, lead rep for the NUJ JPIMedia group chapel, said:
"With the serious financial pressures facing the regional media and everything that's happened with our own employer in recent years, it feels like we're always braced for the possibility of job cuts or pay freezes. The announcement by Newsquest about putting staff on furlough and cutting pay was the first alarm bell for us though as we tend to find that where one publisher goes, the others soon follow.
"Seeing colleagues elsewhere being furloughed has done nothing to lessen the upset felt by us all on Wednesday when the company briefings were made. There's been panic for those being furloughed in particular as the initial news sinks in and we're all still trying to understand the finer details and what this means. It's certainly heightened the fears that everyone already held about the prospect of redundancies further down the line.
"From an NUJ perspective, the first priority is absolutely the wellbeing and financial security of our members. Reps out in workplaces and our officials have been working to support those hardest hit where we can – and we'll continue to do so.
"We're also pursuing further talks at a national level with the company to look at the impact of the measures they're taking and how those are being put in place. The key for us is getting all our members back to work and back on their full salaries at the earliest opportunity."