Newsquest Glasgow offices empty as 250 join strike

More than 250 journalists downed tools this afternoon and joined in the first strike in Scottish newspapers for 17 years.

Just after 3pm, Staff from the Herald, Sunday Herald and the Glasgow Evening Times marched the short distance from Newsquest’s Renfield Street offices to nearby Caledonian University, where an emergency NUJ Glasgow branch meeting is being held. Members are set to discuss a further walk-out at the Herald next week.

The dispute has emerged over a round of redundancies, part of a £3m cost-cutting drive, and a perceived lack of investment at the three titles. Sunday Herald staff will not return to their office tomorrow, putting a extra strain on the paper’s production.

Newsquest stressed that the three papers would be published as normal this weekend and Press Gazette understands pages are being made at another Newsquest title in northern England.

Holleran said today there had been ‘no contact’between the union and the company in the last few days and said the company wanted to ‘take us on’over the issue of compulsory redundancies.

As many as 90 staff are set to leave as part of a voluntary scheme with four compulsory redundancies previously predicted at the Evening Times. Newsquest’s managing director for Glasgow, Tim Blott, said yesterday that there was now only one compulsory redundancy on the cards and expressed regre that the strike was still going ahead.

The NUJ Glasgow branch’s website said that today’s emergency branch meeting would discuss ‘legal advice on the options you can take when confronted by pickets on Wednesday and Thursday”. A circular is set to be sent to members today advising on which route to be taken by staff when leaving the building in order to maximise the national television coverage”.

The union is setting up a fighting find for regular casual staff but said it would ‘like them not to contribute’during the strike.

Details of the titles’ new production system, cited as a source of possible future redundancies by the NUJ, were announced this week. Reading-based software company Atex will replace the paper’s Macintosh-based publishing system with a modern content management system linked to the paper’s websites.

Blott has admitted that when the system goes live later this year the company will conduct a further review of staff roles and has not ruled out future job cuts.

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