Newsquest Glasgow titles vote to strike over job cuts

The first strike in Scottish newspapers for 17 years was set to take place on Friday amid union threats of future industrial action unless editorial job cuts are halted.

Some 280 journalists work at Newsquest’s three Glasgow titles, The Herald, Sunday Herald and the Glasgow Evening Times, and the NUJ said that most will leave for the day at 3pm in protest against a spate of redundancies.

Striking Sunday Herald staff will not return to their desks over the weekend.

Newsquest regional managing director for Glasgow Tim Blott announced around 90 planned editorial redundancies last month including four compulsory job cuts – all believed to be sub-editors – at the Glasgow Evening Times.

NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran this week accused the company of “de-recognising” the union. Newsquest claimed that the house agreement between the NUJ Glasgow branch and the company had actually expired in May, despite the company’s attempts to renegotiate it.

Holleran said: “They plan more redundancies and they want to get rid of people without going through the proper agreements. Under the agreement, they have to go through a certain routine.”

Holleran said the union would seek legal action through an interim edict, the Scottish equivalent of an injunction, to re-establish the house agreement and regain negotiating rights.

He said that the strike would be called off if “satisfactory negotiations” had taken place by Friday.

Blott said: “The NUJ has used every ounce of its political and media muscle to try to bully the company and its own members into submission. In its ballot result, it failed to mention the significant fact that only 23 per cent of its members voted to strike.”

He continued: “The NUJ also claims that Newsquest has run the company into the ground while also contradicting itself by saying that the business has become extremely successful and profitable.

“They conveniently ignore the fact that Newsquest has invested £10m into improving the business over the past three years.”

Blott said that, despite the lack of house agreement, Newsquest would continue to negotiate with the union over the current round of redundancies.

He also said he had consulted the company’s lawyers about the legality of the strike, citing the low turnout of last week’s ballot on strike action.

Although 78 per cent of those polled voted in favour of a strike, only 23 per cent of members voted.

The NUJ blamed last week’s postal strike and said hundreds of people had been attending union meetings in Glasgow.

Press Gazette understands that editors of all three titles are working behind the scenes to redeploy staff from the Evening Times to the Herald titles, where there are volunteers for a redundancy package, and avoid any compulsory redundancies.

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