Guardian News & Media has today confirmed compulsory redundancies are on the agenda as it enters into a formal consultation with the NUJ.
Staff were told that GNM can no longer rule out compulsory redundancies despite The Guardian having never made such cuts in the past.
In July the company said it was aiming to slash editorial costs by around £7m when it opened the voluntary redundancy programme for staff.
The company is looking to cut between 70 and 100 editorial jobs but so far only 30 volunteers have come forward.
In a statement GNM said: “Guardian News & Media's editorial management today met with NUJ officials to discuss ways to achieve the required budget and headcount reduction in the editorial department. The NUJ asked for the voluntary redundancy scheme to be re-opened and this has been agreed.
“GNM also discussed with the NUJ other possible measures to reduce the budget. These included: a pay freeze; reducing the use of casuals; encouraging part-time working; and changing terms and conditions, including reviewing the 9-day fortnight and sabbaticals.
“Of course, GNM hopes that we will be able to achieve the required savings without making compulsory redundancies, but because we recognise that they can't be ruled out, we have today entered into a formal consultation period with the NUJ for a minimum of 90 days.
“During that time, we want to work constructively with the NUJ to achieve the savings by voluntary means if at all possible.”
Up until 2007, the NUJ 'house agreement' with management at The Guardian ruled out compulsory redundancies.
That agreement was renegotiated in 2007 as part of a deal which saw staff journalists accept a £30,000 minimum wage and a 4.8 per cent increase for that year.
It saw the section in the agreement outlawing compulsory redundancies replaced with a new "security of employment" clause which says: "GNM is committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies. Both parties acknowledge that in extreme circumstances reductions in staffing may be unavoidable. In such circumstances GNM would negotiate any such change with the NUJ."
More than 90 per cent of the estimated 650 editorial staff at GNM are members of the NUJ, and representatives are expected to put forward alternatives to redundancies. Last week, for example, the union asked GNM to consider introducing a £100,000 salary cap.
Last year GNM reported a 15 per cent increase in operating losses to £44.2m in July.