Staff hit with pay freeze at Scotsman Publications

Journalists on The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News have been told they will not be getting a pay rise for a year. The freeze applies to all staff at Scotsman Publications, including the managing director and the board.

Annual pay reviews had already been put back until February while the company looked at costs. It has recently cut staff – around eight jobs went last year across the three titles and another four have gone this year, achieved mostly by non-replacement of vacancies.

Now staff have been told that there is a pay freeze because the company finds the economic climate is so tough – "the worst in 20 years", said editorial director John McGurk.

"We have survived without large-scale redundancies and we have enjoyed pretty heavy investment from our owners in the past four or five years, but the recession shows no signs of lifting," he added.

Journalists are unhappy that there was no previous consultation over the freeze. McGurk said Scotsman Publications had felt the simplest way to tell the staff was "honestly, via their managers".

But McGurk had some cheer. Merit rises had not been counted out, he said, as long as they can be achieved within budgets. Meanwhile, The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, both under new leaders, are getting a revamp.

The Scotsman’s tabloid S2 section has already gone up by four pages and more expansion is expected, while SoS is ditching supplements to start a News Review section shortly.

Scotsman editor Iain Martin and SoS acting editor John McLellan are presiding over the facelifts to try to increase current sales, which are nearly 80,000 and 90,700 respectively. McGurk said S2 was a powerful tool for The Scotsman. It was originally envisaged as a 32 to 36-page supplement and had only been managing half that until the four-page uplift.

"We are trying to make it more meaty. It’s a question of getting a better balance," he said.

The Scotsman’s standalone pink business section, introduced in April 2000, may go back into the main paper but McGurk said while that idea was being considered, the company was reluctant to lose the three daily sections.

"We are very keen to protect the integrity of the business section but it is not always possible to do everything in this economic climate," he said.

Magazines director Sandra Colmartino was one of the recent redundancies, following the demise of Sunday Business’s Business & Pleasure magazine in December and the decision to scrap SoS’s monthly sports magazine, Into Sport, after a six-month experiment. Another experimental separate section, At Play, on arts and culture with TV listings, is also going but some of its content will go into the SoS magazine Spectrum.

Instead, SoS will launch the News Review section and up-page Spectrum to take the listings.

By Jean Morgan

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