Journalists' outrage over Archant redundancy terms

Journalist from across the Archant regional newspaper empire have urged the company to reconsider plans to reduce redundancy payments for journalists.

Last month, Archant revealed that a further 20 journalists were set to go from the Suffolk division which publishes the East Anglian Daily Times and the Evening Star, both based in Ipswich.

Archant Norfolk, which publishes the Evening News and Eastern Daily Press in Norwich, is currently undergoing a review which is expected to lead to job cuts among its 170 journalists.

A letter sent jointly from Archant’s various NUJ chapels to the board of directors read: “We are writing to urge you to reconsider your decision, taken in the latter half of last year, to cut the company redundancy package.

“This decision has coincided with proposals for major job cuts at Archant Suffolk, where the company is looking at reducing the editorial workforce by a fifth.

“The National Union of Journalists chapels in Suffolk, Norfolk and London strongly oppose these plans.

“The company says it intends to make compulsory redundancies only as a last resort, and yet offer a package which is some way below what it was offering even last summer.

“This is a disincentive to anyone who might otherwise be inclined to volunteer to leave.

“A number of lower paid and short-serving staff in the editorial department stand to come away with the statutory minimum or nothing at all as a result of your decision to cut the redundancy offer.

“Those earning more will do little better than the statutory minimum. You have also placed a cap on the final amount, which will hit longer servers, while those with two years service or less will come away empty-handed.

“While Archant, like many other businesses, may be facing tough times at the moment, its history as an organisation rooted in the community should not be forgotten.

“The staff at Archant Suffolk, as at Archant Norfolk – where editorial staff are currently waiting to hear if there will be redundancies, following a review – and Archant’s London newspapers, are hard-working and loyal and deserve better than this.

“Rewarding such loyalty is both good for the individuals and, we would argue, good for the business as it will help us all to get through this period in better shape.

“We are calling for at least a reinstatement of last year’s package, which offered a multiple of half a week more and a £1,000 incentive.”

The letter is signed by Archant NUJ chapels at Suffolk, Norfolk, the Ham and High and East London Newspapers.

Peter Kelley from Archant Norfolk, said: “Cutting to the bone doesn’t even come into this. It’s amputation.

“It means we can’t hope to do what we do best – to provide reliable information and a service to our local communities.

“These are the very qualities which this company should be investing in now, to safeguard the future of their products and their brands. It’s good business sense. “

Archant Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire managing director Staur McCreery said: “We are involved in a consultation process over proposed changes in the editorial department of Archant Suffolk.

“The NUJ is part of this consultation. The next meeting with them is today, 10 February.

“Archant has operated its current redundancy policy since late summer 2008. We have no current plans to review this.”

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