Newsquest condemned as 'incompetent' and 'brutal' by NUJ over closure of Newport subbing hub

Newsquest has been condemned as “brutal” and “incompetent” by the National Union of Journalists after announcing the closure of its remote newspaper subbing hub in Wales.

The creation of the Newport production centre resulted in dozens of experienced local newspapers subs getting made redundant at Newsquest’s newspapers around England.

Now the subbing hub itself is having much of its work moved to a surviving production centre in Weymouth, Dorset.

Some 14 full-time equivalent jobs are to go. The hub once employed 70 staff.

It is proposed that it will close on 7 April.

Newsquest regional production manager Carl Blackmore told staff: “As you are aware we continue to face difficult trading conditions with sustained pressure on the profitability of the business.

“The company continues to look at all functions and disciplines across the business and where appropriate implement re-organisations or consolidations of functions so as to deliver efficiencies and reduce costs.

“Since the introduction of the ‘Write to Shape’ project the workload has reduced significantly within the Group Editorial Services Copy Editing function.

“With so much of newspaper copy-editing work now no longer being required, it is anticipated that the copy-editing department will not need the same staffing levels going forward.”

 

NUJ national organiser for Wales John Toner said: “The announcement is a huge blow for the staff who survived a redundancy process just a matter of months ago and now find they will lose their jobs after all.

“Is there another company as incompetent and brutal in equal measure? The company has shed many of its experienced and talented sub-editors on titles across the UK and has now ditched the dedicated editing team in Newport.

“The plan, if this company can be thought to have any plan apart from having no strategy except cutting jobs, appears to be to off-load editing back to titles in Scotland and the north, which are woefully under-staffed, and to the hub in Weymouth.

“This has been a disastrous experiment for all involved. The NUJ will ensure its members at the Newport hub are fully supported.”

NUJ Newsquest coordinator Chris Morley said: “The proposal to axe remaining jobs in the Newport subbing hub,  just two months after more than halving the workforce there, appears to be a panic measure to help keep going the level of generous profits from Newsquest exported to America.

“Bob Dickey, boss of US parent company Gannett, acknowledges in his guidance today to the money markets that the lower value of the pound is hurting the company and that they are cutting costs in the first half of the year to flatter the company’s figures in the second half.

“But UK journalists should not be sacrificed to fickle transatlantic exchange rates. For many years Gannett happily benefited from the enhanced earnings in Britain derived from a strong pound, so bosses must use current circumstances to invest in their operations on this side of the Atlantic, not grind it further into the ground.”

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