Telegraph strike threat over Victoria move

Will Lewis's first challenge as editor of the Daily Telegraph will be a possible strike which could see 250 journalists walk out.

This week, the NUJ sent ballot papers to ask members whether they wanted to strike in protest at 54 compulsory redundancies and drastic changes to working patterns prompted by the move from Canary Wharf to Victoria.

The move is expected to be completed within the next two weeks, and will include new rotas for most staff to enable a switch to 24/7 work patterns and increased use of the Telegraph website.

According to the NUJ, all 54 journalists facing redundancy have now accepted the company's terms — which comprise three months' notice pay, a further three months for the statutory consultation period and then one month per year of service.

NUJ national newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said a surge in applications has brought the union's strength at Telegraph Group up to around 250 out of the 376 remaining staff. In addition to the recent cull, some 90 journalists took voluntary redundancy in February 2005.

Depending on the outcome of the current ballot, staff could go on strike in the middle of November.

Fitzpatrick said: "The most important issue is that the new terms of employment for staff are negotiated terms and not just imposed — that remains the main dispute between us."

NUJ officials met management this week, and were given some sample rotas for the new system. No journalists were named on the rotas, just the titles PJ (production journalist) one, two, three and four.

Fitzpatrick said: "I've seen a lot of rotas in my time, but never seen one before that has no names on it." He said that promises have been made that journalists will still have a "lifestyle" balance under the new shifts.

But he said the NUJ was looking for cast-iron guarantees.

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