Telegraph job cuts prompt strike talks

Telegraph NUJ members were this week considering industrial action in protest at more proposed job cuts and radical changes to working practices.

Journalists are understood to be particularly upset over the exit last week of well-liked foreign editor Alan Philps, and over the impending departure of former deputy editor Neil Darbyshire.

Philps — who had been at The Daily Telegraph for 15 years — left the paper on Thursday last week, following the promotion of defence and security editor Con Coughlin to executive foreign editor.

According to one Telegraph insider, Philps was offered other possible jobs and said he would go away and think about it, before being told his contract was terminated.

The insider said: "He's very upset and a lot of other people are very upset too, particularly in the light of all the rumours going around over the move, and the effective removal of Neil Darbyshire."

Darbyshire was moved from the job of joint deputy editor in July, when Ian MacGregor from the Evening Standard was appointed deputy editor.

At the time, Telegraph management said Darbyshire would be given another senior editorial role, but he is now believed to be in discussions over a departure package.

Philps and Darbyshire are the latest in a series of old Telegraph hands to be ousted by the new management regime which followed the Barclay brothers' takeover of Telegraph Group in June 2004.

Departures of long established senior Telegraph editorial figures have included: Daily Telegraph editor Martin Newland, Sunday Telegraph editors Dominic Lawson and then Sarah Sands, and Daily Telegraph managing editor Sue Ryan.

NUJ father of chapel Jon Carey said of Philps and Darbyshire: "These are brilliantly good people who are fantastic at their jobs, very respected and much liked."

Regarding the threat of job cuts associated with the office moveto Victoria and radical changes to working practices, Carey said: "There's been no information and no consultation with the NUJ, in complete contravention of our own house agreement. We've heard rumours over the past few months, asked questions and been told nothing."

NUJ officials were holding talks with management this week and planning to hold a full chapel meeting on Thursday, at which possible strike action was expected to be discussed.

Other grievances surrounding the move of office include the refusal of management to cover increased travel costs for some staff.

The NUJ currently reckons its strength at more than half of the 430 fulltime staff. Staff believe the job cuts will mainly affect subs and are likely to be considerably fewer than the 90 redundancies in February last year.

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