Grim reaper leads Northcliffe demo

By Colin Crummy

Journalists
at the Western Daily Press and Bristol Evening Post staged a mock
funeral on Tuesday over owner Northcliffe’s plans to cut about 35 jobs.

The protest took place after the company ended group consultations with staff representatives about the redundancies.

A
petition signed by more than 100 journalists calling for the
consultation process to continue was sent to editor-in-chief Mike
Norton on Monday. The request was rejected.

Evening Post NUJ
father of chapel Derek Brooks said: “The company is insisting that
consultations with elected representatives of staff are over, even
though we still don’t know the exact number of jobs that will be cut.

“The fact that 104 journalists signed a petition calling for the procedure to continue has simply been ignored by the company.”

A
spokesperson for the company said: “Northcliffe has acted entirely
properly and has gone to extraordinary lengths to consult with staff.
It has acted entirely properly at every stage.”

An estimated 50
members of staff attended the demonstration in which the grim reaper
accompanied a coffin with pallbearers on a route around the Post and
Press offices in central Bristol.

Western Daily Press FoC Paul
Breeden said: “We called on the services of the grim reaper today not
because we think our titles are about to collapse, but because we fear
Northcliffe’s proposals are the beginning of the end for quality daily
newspapers in the region.

“We simply can’t produce papers of the same standard with 20 per cent fewer staff.”

The
Northcliffe spokesperson said: “These changes are designed to
strengthen the titles within a very competitive newspaper market and to
ensure that they are vibrant and competitive in the long term.”

The
cull is expected to start on the photographic and sports desks, which
will be merged across both titles. Other mergers will follow as part of
Northcliffe’s programme of £35m savings over the next two years, which
was announced last year. Parent company the Daily Mail and General
Trust has subsequently put the whole group up for sale.

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