Managers to take place of striking MEN workers

Editor Paul Horrocks has contingency plans to get out a new early edition

Editorial managers at the Manchester Evening News plan to take the place of striking journalists this week to ensure a new early-bird edition gets out.

Journalists have voted to strike from Sunday, which is due to be the first production day for the new early edition, and on Monday.

In response, editor Paul Horrocks has drawn up contingency plans which include a rota for management level editorial staff to put out the paper.

Horrocks says the new early edition is needed as a back-up to safeguard distribution during a period when the presses are being renewed.

But staff are unhappy at the new evening and Sunday shifts required to bring the paper out.

Out of 101 union members at the paper 72 returned ballots and 56 voted in favour of strike.

After an initial two-day strike, staff have voted for an indefinite work-to-rule which means they will refuse to work the new evening and weekend shifts.

The current management offer includes the appointment of ten new staff, replacing voluntary leavers, who will be employed specifically to work the new shifts. And there will be payment of an evening working dinner allowance of about £15 per shift.

The union says it wants guarantees to ensure existing staff won’t have to work the new hours.

Manchester Evening News NUJ mother of chapel Judy Gordon said: “The management are asking people to change their shift patterns to incorporate evening working and Sunday working which the vast majority of people don’t normally do. We said either employ more staff to work these shifts or offer money to existing staff to do these shifts.”

She added: “We don’t disagree with everything they’ve said. But what’s hard to pin down is for people to be sure they will not be working these shifts.”

Editor Paul Horrocks said: “A lot of effort has gone into trying to avoid this industrial action and the management has already made a number of concessions to the chapel journalists.

We have offered a programme that involves recruiting 10 people specifically to work evenings and weekends as well as additional casuals.

“This means that on a typical day the chapel will only be required to have one member working the new shifts to cover for sickness, holidays and emergencies. No one is being asked to work longer hours, just different hours, as they are already contracted to do.”

He added: “We are doing this to protect the availability of the paper and the long-term viability of the business, which obviously protects everyone’s jobs”

By Dominic Ponsford

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