Express axes S:2 glossy as Telegraph names 14 to go

By Dominic Ponsford

Fraught labour relations at Express Newspapers worsened this week
after plans to scrap the paper’s glossy S:2 supplement were confirmed.

The entertainment mag was dropped in Scotland on Sunday and is
expected to come out for the last time in the rest of the UK this week.

Staff are already in the middle of a ballot on industrial action over pay and conditions.

At
a chapel meeting on Friday, NUJ members passed a motion which
“deplored” the decision to close S:2 because of the effect it would
have on the staff concerned and the circulation of the paper.

The
motion said: “If the management is not committed to the future success
of the business, does it want the chapel to help find a suitable buyer
for the titles?”

The closure is understood to affect about half a dozen journalists who are expected to be offered other jobs within the group.

According to one inside source, closing S:2 magazine will save the company £3.5m a year.

Sunday Express circulation for January was up 4.4 per cent year-onyear to 904,547.

Meanwhile,
at the Telegraph Group, talks are continuing with the NUJ after 14
staff were this week told they faced compulsory redundancy.

On
Tuesday, Telegraph management revealed that 76 staff had been accepted
for voluntary redundancy out of an initial 120 applicants.

By
late this week, another three or four of those facing compulsory
redundancy had instead opted to accept the voluntary terms – which
include a bonus for leaving early.

Those at risk of compulsory lay-off have had their entry cards to Canary Wharf deactivated but remain on the payroll.

NUJ
officials met management on Tuesday afternoon and received an assurance
that both sides would continue to work towards avoiding compulsory
redundancies.

One Telegraph insider said: “Morale is extremely
low. People people feel that the consultation process has not been
followed and that the company has gone ahead and tried to push through
this process as fast as it can.”

In a letter sent to Telegraph
journalists at their homes this week, chief executive Murdoch MacLennan
said: “The savings we have achieved will be ploughed back into
improving our newspapers and commissioning new, state-of-the-art colour
presses.”

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