Herts strike suspended as Iliffe offers job cuts compromise

NUJ members at Iliffe News & Media's Herts and Essex Newspapers have suspended the threat of strike action following concessions, in a restructure that will see several senior editorial jobs axed.

The concessions include a "no holds barred" review to be carried out two months after the restructure is in place.

The chapel is to meet on 17 August to discuss what should be included in the company's restructure review.

As part of the plans, Herts and Essex Observer editor Val Brown's position is to be incorporated into that of editor-inchief Colin Grant, in whom the chapel passed a vote of no confidence.

The posts of editor and news editor at the Hoddesdon and Cheshunt Mercury series and its sister title, the Hertfordshire Mercury, will be replaced with one overall editor and news editor, while the Harlow Star and Lea Valley Star will be edited by one editor.

Those whose jobs are at risk are due to apply for new positions or for voluntary redundancy in September.

Last Thursday, the chapel voted 82.8 per cent in favour of strike action against the restructure, but it has now agreed to suspend action, following the management's concessions, which also include an enhanced voluntary redundancy package. The chapel is trying to improve the package even further for members.

The NUJ forum has been reconstituted with immediate effect, which, according to the union, the company had previously abolished "arbitrarily".

HEN has agreed to take on a production editor and freelance sub-editor and to review the decision to close an office in Hoddeson.

In a statement, the chapel said: "While it is accepted that some members will be disappointed that the restructuring is to go ahead in any form, it was the view of the majority of members present that the chapel could not risk jeopardising the concessions already achieved by the negotiating team, by going out on strike.

"However, it is important to point out that if HEN is foolish enough to break any of its promises, the option of conducting a ballot remains open to the chapel."

HEN managing director Paul Thompson was on holiday, unavailable for comment.

■ NUJ members at the Bolton Evening News have voted 74.4 per cent in favour of strike action over working late shifts and the payments they receive since the move to a morning publication.

The chapel is due to meet management when editor Steve Hughes returns from holiday, to begin negotiations to see whether action can be avoided.

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