Telegraph threatens NUJ with injunction

Telegraph Media Group has threatened an injunction against a staff ballot proposing industrial action over recent changes.

The move follows a vote by the NUJ chapel for a ballot to discuss industrial action over plans to cut all casual staff on both the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph from 13 October. The NUJ argue this will effectively lead to 30 job losses, as some casuals have been with the newspaper as long as 15 year.

TMG has twice rejected the ballot, arguing that because as casual staff they do not have a legal relationship with the company and have rejected the use of the term ‘redundancies’in the ballot.

Chris Howe, who became Father of chapel in June after his predecessor John Carey was made redundant said that staff feel they have no choice but to go ahead with the ballot. ‘It is a very preliminary stage, which would enable us to have a debate over what to do next,” he said. “We reworded it and presented it another way and we’ve been told if we go ahead with it they will go for an injunction again. Our feeling is we go ahead with it. We feel that whatever we do they’re going to be putting obstacles in our way. Until they’re able to hold a grown up conversation with us we carry on.”

The Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph recently had a full-colour redesign, and changes on the papers have involved hiring 40 new media specialists including 18 platform-neutral content desk editors.

The NUJ is also opposed to the switch from nine day fortnights to 10 day fortnights for night staff, with a one-off payment of £3,000 but no salary increase for the additional 23 working days a year.

The NUJ and management have not met since 7 August, when talks were broken off.

‘They talk to us through lawyers, they negotiate by injunction and they’re deciding their policies through consultants,” Howe said. “Really this is a management that strikes me isn’t managing. It seems to us they’re trying to deny our legal right to hold a ballot and trying to deny free speech through the courts. In some ways we agree with the changes, it’s the way they’re doing it that is deplorable.”

Management at TMG declined to comment.

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