Once again journalists at Telegraph Media Group are gearing up for a dispute with management over radical changes to their conditions.
This time it is over plans to create 40 new full-time positions.
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But NUJ members at the company are concerned about the wholesale scrapping of casual staff which is going hand-in-hand with the move.
Not all the current casual workers will be offered new full- or part-time jobs – and currently those who have been regular freelances for a year or more are not expected to be offered redundancy pay-offs.
Executive director editorial Richard Ellis, who is in charge of negotiating with the union, has said in a letter to casuals that it would be ‘advisable for those applying for jobs with us to take steps to seek work at other establishments”.
The paper’s NUJ chapel has also questioned plans to scrap the nine-day fortnight – and make it 10 days – for 65 production journalists in exchange for a one-off payment of £2,000.
The NUJ chapel believe each case will be worth about £3,000 a year to the company. Reporters who accept new working conditions, such as weekend working or 6am starts, also qualify for the one-off sums.
Increased weekend working is expected to be increasingly prevalent in sport where – according to the NUJ – journalists have been asked to work one weekend in two (for both days).
A chapel spokesman said: ‘Sports production staff are absolutely adamant that that is unacceptable.
The ending of casuals in non-production roles is due to end on 8 September, while production casuals will stop from 13 October. The 40 new jobs are being advertised internally.
The NUJ’s main gripe is the lack of consultation over the move. Chapel representatives were told about the latest plans at the same time they were announced in a press release.
A chapel spokesman said: ‘We want to know why they didn’t consult and negotiate with us in advance because we are entitled to that and it would have been a more efficient way of doing it.”
A series of weekly meetings is now underway between chapel representatives and management.
Telegraph management told Press Gazette that under the no-casuals rule there would still be scope for ‘trying out’new reporters.
A spokeswoman said: ‘No other media organisation has responded to the current economic conditions by creating permanent jobs.
‘Most have been cutting jobs. We are increasing our staff numbers by a significant percentage. This strengthens the Telegraph titles and our website, further professionalises our editorial operation and invests in the future. It puts us in position to continue our successful multimedia strategy, even in the midst of a severe economic slowdown.
‘These changes will increase, not reduce, flexibility. Staff working towards a weekend publication will have contracts that reflect the days of the week they work.”