Newsquest strikers back at work, but union warns of more cuts as publisher's owners seek $30m savings

NUJ members on strike outside Newsquests south London office on 13 October 2016

Journalists at Newsquest south London have returned to work after a ten-day strike against job losses and understaffing, but a union has warned more cuts could be around the corner.

Staff at the Sutton office, which produces 11 local newspapers and eight associated websites, are carrying out a “work to rule” action after rejoining the newsroom yesterday.

The ongoing dispute follows Newsquest’s decision to put 27 out of 29 staff at risk of redundancy in September as part of a restructure that would see 11 positions made redundant.

So far there have been 14 departures, including eight redundancies and six resignations, according to the National Union of Journalists.

They claim more cuts could be on the way after Newsquest’s parent-company Gannett, based in the US, revealed it needed to make $30m in savings following a net loss of $24.2m during its third financial quarter.

Robert Dickey, Gannet’s president and chief executive officer, said: “While we saw signs of improvement late in the third quarter, we were disappointed with our performance, and as we expected, it was our most challenging period in 2016.”

The NUJ has claimed Newsquest’s south London restructure will leave 12 reporters for all of its titles covering south London and Surrey.

As a result of resignations and redundancies, a source told Press Gazette the sports desk covering ten titles across south London had been “eradicated”.

The union claimed the publisher wanted the per-page cost to drop from £109 to £53. Newsquest axed a contract with a photographic agency in September.

Following the strike, Newsquest management have said they would shelve a new shift system which they had intended to roll out this week, according to the union.

A chapel spokesperson said of the strike action: “We demonstrated to the company our rejection of their proposed structure.

“Spirits were high over both weeks and we had phenomenal support from other journalists, as well as our readers and elected politicians. We went out to our patches to let readers know what exactly Newsquest is going to do to their beloved local papers.

“The paradox is that getting on patch will be a thing of the past under the new system. We are still as determined as ever to roll back these severe and unnecessary cuts.

“We will assess our options and everything is still on the table.”

Newsquest declined to comment.

Comments

1 thought on “Newsquest strikers back at work, but union warns of more cuts as publisher's owners seek $30m savings”

  1. Richmond & Twickenham Times used to be half decent but now they barely bother wallpapering between the advertorials. Last week’s was just risible. Sympathy for those affected.

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