NUJ voices concern at National World restructures

  • 24 Jul 2023

NUJ members working for National World have urged the company to think twice before removing even more experienced and knowledgeable colleagues from its newsrooms across the UK.

The publisher, whose flagship titles include The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post and The News Letter, has opened up a company-wide voluntary redundancy scheme. It follows a restructuring that saw more than 50 journalists placed at risk of redundancy, with more than 25 leaving on a voluntary or compulsory basis.  

The company had originally said it would create 13 new roles as part of the process but reduced that number to 12. Three of the newly created roles on the website remain unfilled and have been put under review.

Although the voluntary redundancy scheme appears open to all staff, emails issued last week were sent out on a regional basis and many were signed as being on behalf of the relevant editorial and commercial directors for the area.

One such email cites the company's efforts to evolve its operating model and the recently concluded restructuring. The message continues by saying the business and its staff need to "adapt at pace" and some people may find that "concerning", so a voluntary redundancy scheme is being opened to all staff until 5pm on 1 August.

The NUJ has condemned the company's shambolic handling of the recent restructuring and hundreds of National World journalists also backed a motion of no confidence in executive chairman David Montgomery and the board earlier this month.

A National World Group Chapel spokesperson said:

"This latest announcement from the company has done nothing to restore confidence in the way the business is being run and has merely added to the sense that those at the top have no faith in their own strategy either. A business that believed in itself would not be inviting yet more experienced and long-serving journalists and commercial colleagues to walk out the door.

"Management has only just let go of a number of highly skilled journalists - from sports writers through to editors - whose combined experience amounts to hundreds of years. They did so without having properly communicated plans in place for when those key team members left, leaving the stressed and worried staff who remain with the impression that those at the top are just making it up as they go along.  

"Voluntary redundancy schemes such as these inevitably appeal most to those with the longest service, risking a damaging drain on skills and a stripping out of support for lower paid junior staff who will be left with too few people to turn to for advice and guidance. Nobody doing the real work of building the audience for the company's titles is buying into the board's deluded belief that having even fewer experienced journalists is the path to sustainable long-term growth." 

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