Telegraph expresses astonishment at union strike ballot

Telegraph Media Group has expressed astonishment that the National Union of Journalists has decided to ballot for strike action days after it announced 40 new jobs.

The NUJ chapel at TMG yesterday announced it would put strike action to a vote after the company said it would cut all casual work from next month, effectively axing about 30 staff. The Telegraph is currently hiring for 40 new media specialists, including 18 platform-neutral content desk editors.

A spokeswoman for the publisher said: “It is highly regrettable – and frankly astonishing – that the NUJ is balloting for strike action at a time when the Telegraph is creating 40 new jobs for journalists, even in the middle of a serious economic downturn.’

Union members are also concerned that some production staff will lose their nine-day fortnight, in return for a £2,000 payment and that new starters will have worse terms and conditions than current staff including less holiday entitlement.

“Of course we are making essential changes to our business as well, as all media organisations are, and are simply asking some production journalists to work a 5-day week like their colleagues,’the spokeswoman said. ‘We recognise that this will impact on some people and we’re making a significant payment of £3,000 to all those affected.

“We’ve made extensive efforts to communicate with all our staff, as well as with the NUJ. We’ll continue to do so.”

Yesterday NUJ national newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said ‘No wonder journalists have had enough…Sadly, this disregard for our members’ loyalty and hard work seems to be a culture that has dominated the newsroom since the Barclay brothers bought the papers.’

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