Express NUJ chapel favours strike action

 

An overwhelming number of the 250 NUJ journalists at Express News-papers have voted for industrial and, possibly, strike action.

In a recent ballot, the votes were 93 per cent in favour of industrial action and 68 per cent in favour of strike action. The large pro-action vote has been sparked by the company’s attempts to scrap existing redundancy agreements and introduce new contracts. These would deny the staff remaining after 145 jobs are axed extra payments for additional work.

Eighty-five chapel members have already left. They were not counted in the vote.

The chapel met on Thursday to consider its course of action which is likely to clash with the paper’s General Election coverage.

NUJ organiser Jeremy Dear said: "In the past few weeks we have tried time and again to negotiate with the company over redundancies, union recognition, contracts, staffing and the company’s business plan. Every suggestion, every attempt at an agreement has been met with a no."

Dear said the redundancy exercise had been arbitrary and unfair.

Around 130 redundancy leavers have now had their applications to go confirmed. Others who have applied, particularly in the production area, have been turned down.

But in the office of the Scottish Daily Express, where the company is still 11 short of the total job cuts it is seeking, there have been few volunteers. Negotiations are ongoing with a meeting scheduled between the union and the company on Monday.

The editor of the Daily Express Saturday magazine, Sally Ferrari, is leaving the paper and the editor of the Sunday Express magazine, Lesley Thomas, who is on maternity leave, is also rumoured to be going.

Their departments have been cut back radically as part of proprietor Richard Desmond’s drive to secure redundancies at the Daily and Sunday Express and the Daily Star.

S Magazine has also had a pagination cut from 116 pages to 84.

Ferrari’s deal has been signed and Thomas is thought to be in negotiation over her position.

Ferrari became editor of Saturday in 1999 after successfully launching three free magazines for United Advertising Publications and Express titles as editor-in-chief. She had previously been a commissioning editor on the Express on Sunday Magazine.

Thomas was editor of the Daily Express Life section, when she was promoted to editor of Sunday Magazine – rechristened S – in May last year. She joined the Sunday Express in 1996 as royal correspondent.

By Jean Morgan

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