More jobs to be axed at biggest regional daily

 

Wolverhampton's Express and Star is facing as many as 40 job cuts seven months after 39 jobs were axed.

The Star's owners the Graham family today announced that they were offering voluntary redundancy packages to staff because of "difficult trading conditions".

According to a company memo leaked to Press Gazette compulsory redundancies will be made if not enough staff accept the deal.

 

NUJ father of chapel at the Express and StarJohn Corser said the redundancies were going to be across all departments and that the management had made no indication of how many journalists' jobs were under threat. Of the 39 made redundant in the summer 14 were journalists.

 

He said: "We are going to see what happens. We have a staff council with NUJ representation and we will do our best to represent our members' interests.

 

"Naturally there is concern about the implications of job losses and restructuring. But at the moment it's up to individuals whether they take redundancy."

 

Express & Star managing director Alan Harris said in a statement the cuts were in response to "poor trading conditions".

He said there was an urgent need to reduce costs at the title and that the prospects of an improvement "remained uncertain in the foreseeable future".

In a letter to all staff today Harris said: "Last year, we as a company had to embark on a redundancy exercise. At the time, I explained the reasons for this and, in particular, the urgent necessity to reduce costs.

"Despite the measures which have been taken since then, the situation has sadly not markedly improved and not withstanding the steps that we are continuing to take to try to address it, the prospect of a significant improvement in the near future remains uncertain.

"As a result, the board have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it necessary to launch a further voluntary redundancy scheme. As on the last occassion, it will be open to all staff. It is anticipated that the number of redundancies will be in the region of 35-40."

The letter adds: "I would hope, as happened last time, there will be sufficient suitable volunteers, but obviously if there are not, then I am afraid that some compulsory redundancies may have to be contemplated."

The letter follows a circular to all staff from group chairman Douglas Graham which was put on Wednesday to address what he called "rumours".

In it he stated that the company is reviewing all its operations and confirmed that it has sold its Stars News news agencies to the Midlands Co-op. He also mentioned the possibility of a "review of district offices".

 

 

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