Four axed at Plymouth Sunday

The NUJ is taking Newsquest to an employment tribunal after it issued four redundancies at the Sunday Independent ahead of its sale to Tindle Newspapers.

Contracts were exchanged last week for the Plymouth-based title, which has a circulation of 27,630.

Three of the employees are trainee journalists and, having worked for the publisher for less than two years, are not entitled to redundancy money.

However, the NUJ claims that Newsquest, the country’s second largest publisher of regional and local newspapers, did not comply with the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations 1981. These state that, in almost all cases, the employment of those connected with the transfer of ownership is protected unless the reasons for the dismissals can be justified on economic, technical or organisational reasons. But according to the union, Newsquest failed to consult with employees’ representatives and gave the staff one month’s notice with one month’s pay.

NUJ assistant organiser (newspapers) Don Mackglew said: “The NUJ will be taking legal action on behalf of the employees. Because Newsquest did not consult with trade unions or set up a committee, it can be liable to pay them up to 13 months’ pay, which is what we will be pushing for.”

According to Mackglew, one of the journalists had moved from the North East to Plymouth for the job and had been working there for just two weeks before being made redundant. He said they had put down a six-month deposit on a flat and were now in a financial dilemma and unable to return home. Newsquest is believed to have offered the same employee a non-journalistic job elsewhere in the group, which was declined.

One source at the Sunday Independent, the oldest regional Sunday paper in England and Wales, said: “I am shocked and insulted by the way we have been treated. They didn’t even consult us and I feel completely disregarded.”

Newsquest spokesman Andrew Diprose confirmed that four journalists were being made redundant.

“Newsquest is doing everything possible to find alternative employment within the group and consultations are underway,” he said. He declined to comment on the action being taken by the NUJ.

By Sarah Lagan

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