Guardian set for fight over plans to cut 70 journalists

Guardian News and Media (GNM) journalists are set to argue that the publisher reviews its printing arrangements and digital investment before axing another 70 editorial staff.

It emerged this week that around 30 staff have expressed interest in Guardian News and Media’s voluntary redundancy programme.

Parent company Guardian Media Group has said it needs to cut up to 100 journalists in order to help achieve cost savings of £7m.

Earlier this year GNM reported a 15 per cent increase in operating losses to £44.2m.

Uniquely among the national press, The Guardian has never made compulsory redundancies and any such move would be strongly resisted among the paper’s highly-unionised workforce.

More than 90 per cent of the estimated 650 editorial staff are members of the National Union of Journalists. Journalists’ representatives are expected to put forward alternatives to redundancies.

One option under consideration is a proposal that The Guardian review its printing arrangements. In 2005, GNM spent £80m on installing its own specialist Berliner-size printing presses.

Since then the print circulation has halved, leaving it with spare print capacity.

But its unusual size means it is unable to take in contracts to produce other papers.

Many insiders are also understood to be uneasy about increasing digital investment which is seen as hastening the print decline.

In recent years The Guardian has transferred resources from print to digital. In August, sales of The Guardian dropped 15 per cent year on year to just over 200,000.

Asked if there would now be compulsory redundancies, a spokeswoman said that “we are working closely with the NUJ to discuss how the necessary savings can be achieved”, adding: “We will not be making any further comment at this stage.”

NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said further meetings are planned with Guardian management.

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