Staff consider industrial action over Archant cuts

By Sarah Lagan

The threat of industrial unrest hangs over the regional press after the announcement of editorial cut backs.

Journalists at Archant Norfolk are considering their options, which
could include industrial action, after learning the company is to make
up to 17 people redundant following a structural shakeup.

claimed 61 members of staff will have to reapply for their jobs and
could face pay cuts. Management dismissed the NUJ’s view as an “over

The group is to merge its daily and weekly
production, subbing and sport departments across the Eastern Daily
Press, Evening News in Norwich and group of 15 weekly titles including
the Yarmouth Mercury and Lowestoft Journal.

The price of some of the papers has also risen.

chapel committee member Peter Kelly said: “Archant is basing its
calculations on the notion that a subeditor can design and check a page
in 45 minutes from start to finish. But today they were unable to give
us any clear idea of how they reached that.

“It is staggering
that they seek to cut the pay of hard-working staff when the bills they
pay, such as mortgages and council tax, continue to rise.”

A national organiser from the NUJ will be meeting union members on 10 February to discuss their options.

Archant Norfolk managing director Barry Dennis said: “This talk about 60 getting pay cuts is an over exaggeration.

we work out who is doing what, the numbers of shifts and the shift
times we can’t say if there will be pay cuts. If we have to go to a
selection process we will draw up a skills assessment which will be
included in that process.

“Structure is key to this. Once the
structure and skills sets are in place then you can work out what the
requirements are and what the pay levels need to be.”

Further research will be undertaken by an independent consultancy firm throughout the 30-day consultation process.

Evening News in Norwich, which last year had a major redesign, was
named EDF Energy East of England daily newspaper of the year on Monday.

Journalists at Newsquest in Bolton are considering legal action after
the company changed its pay date from the 15th to the 26th of the
month. They believe this is a change to their contract without being
given due notice.

At Bradford the company has organised a ballot to see which of four options people want for changing the pay date.

NUJ said the 11-day delay in staff receiving pay will cause “chaos and
upset”. It claims the move will net the company around £250,000 in
additional interest.

More than 50 journalists on Newsquest’s
Bolton and Bury titles have taken out a grievance against the company
in protest at the change, and the NUJ predicts the rebellion will grow.

general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “While the company gets an extra
quarter of a million pounds in interest, staff are faced with bills
going unpaid and additional charges for unpaid direct debits.

that wages at Newsquest are already so thin there is no fat for staff
to live off. It is OK for highly paid executives – it is another story
for staff on low wages.

“There has been no consultation about
this move. The company should be working with staff to address their
concerns and compensate them for the additional costs the changes will
bring about. If they don’t, it is clear there will be dozens more
grievances up and down the country.”

The NUJ claims that elsewhere in the group cuts are being implemented.

said at Kendal, Bolton, Bury and Bradbury pagination is being or has
been cut and there is a non-replacement of staff policy at each centre,
as well as in Southampton.

The union expects staff in Southampton, Darlington, Brighton, South London and Bradford to put in grievances too.

Newsquest would not comment.

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