Shropshire journalists demand answers on job cuts

Journalists at the Shropshire Star are considering a vote on industrial action, claiming many of their questions about job cuts have gone unanswered by management, the NUJ announced today.

The threat of a ballot on action was decided at a Shropshire Newspapers NUJ meeting on Wednesday night.

The decision was made due to what the union said was a lack of information given to employees over redundancies on the Shropshire Star and its associated weekly titles.

The group’s parent company, the family-owned Midland News Association, announced in October that there would be 135 job losses across its titles, including the Shropshire papers and the Wolverhampton Express and Star.

There is some dispute over the number of redundancies that will be made. Management told Press Gazette this afternoon that there would now be about 120 job cuts in total.

The company confirmed that since October, about 45 voluntary redundancies have been taken and that staff were informed last week that the further cuts would be compulsory.

It is thought that there will be around 70 compulsory redundancies – but the Midland News Association refused to confirm the number and how many cuts would be made from editorial.

The union said it had given the management a deadline of the end of next Monday to reply with further details on the proposed cuts – or it will take a vote on industrial action.

David Burrows, the NUJ father of chapel at Shropshire Newspapers, said: “We are disappointed that almost two weeks after it was announced that the company was entering into compulsory redundancies, there is still uncertainty surrounding the fate of the editorial departments.

“We have asked the company to respond promptly to a series of questions we have put to them and should they fail to do so we will, regretfully, be forced to ballot our members over industrial action.”

Alan Harris, managing director of the newly merged Shropshire Newspapers and Wolverhampton Express and Star, said he had not been informed of the events at the NUJ meeting.

“All I can say is that the consultation process has started,” he told Press Gazette.

“We told staff last week that redundancies would be made across all departments and across both companies. I have nothing further to add at this stage.”

Midland News Association announced the job cuts in October after revealing plans to merge the two companies that run the Wolverhampton based Express and Star and the Shropshire Star.

The company claimed that the redundancies were he result of the economic downturn and a decline in advertising revenues in employment, motoring and advertising.

It was claimed that the cutbacks would make annual savings of £3m.

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