Bagpipes accompany Herald walkout as Newsquest dispute 'escalates'

The bitter industrial dispute at Newsquest’s Glasgow titles did not stop The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times coming out as normal over the weekend.

Last Friday, some 250 journalists at the titles – out of a staff of about 300 – walked out of the company’s Renfield Street offices at 3pm to the sound of a piper, and marched en masse to nearby Caledonian University with a union banner held aloft, for an emergency branch meeting.

Some 180 Herald staff, according to the NUJ, took part in an all-day walkout on Wednesday, and journalists across the three titles began a work-to-rule policy.

Staff will refuse to change shifts without notice or work unpaid overtime, and will demand regular screen breaks.

Neither side is willing to give way despite the dispute now centering on one compulsory redundancy at the Evening Times.

Newsquest Glasgow managing director Tim Blott had previously announced around five compulsory cuts.

The company is cutting about 90 jobs in Glasgow as part of a voluntary scheme, in a bid to save £3m.

Blott says that the person whose job is at stake ‘was invited to apply for other jobs within the group, but declined to do so”.

Blott told Press Gazette he was still waiting for a response from lawyers and the NUJ over the legality of the strike action, citing ‘flaws in the ballot process”.

He said strikers would not be subject to disciplinary action. ‘They are part of a union and this is an official dispute,’he said.

NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said the strikers had gained renewed confidence from the success of last weekend.

‘Things are escalating. After the confidence of Friday, it’s really boosted people. The work to rule is about to kick in. Stupidly, the company has ripped up the [house] agreement in which it said that it had to be flexible, so at the moment all they need to do is work to their job description.”

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: ‘The NUJ remains committed not only to fighting to oppose the outstanding compulsory redundancies but to delivering a clear message that we will not accept the drive to replace skilled staff with less experienced ones, to compromise quality, to needlessly cut editorial budgets and to go back on all those commitments that Newsquest gave at the time of the takeover.’

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