Union urges Richard Desmond to rethink Express cuts

NUJ members at Express Newspapers have written directly to proprietor Richard Desmond expressing concern about a new editorial production system being implemented at the titles.

The publisher announced in September that 86 production jobs would be axed following the introduction of a new editorial system called Woodwing that would involve reporters inputting text straight on to the page.

According to the NUJ, Express Newspapers is proposing to axe 36 staff sub editors, 33 long-term casuals and 17 other casuals.

Management had given staff until Tuesday to decide whether they want to volunteer for redundancy. According to the union, only 14 people have volunteered.

In his letter to Desmond, NUJ father of chapel Steve Usher warned that the system could do ‘severe damage to the reputation and eventually the finances’of the newspapers.

‘We are extremely concerned for the future of the Daily and Sunday Express with the proposed introduction of InDesign and the Woodwing system,’Usher wrote.

‘The Woodwing system does not reduce by a single keystroke the labour needed to produce the newspapers, contrary to what you may have been told.

‘Anyone who says the system will, of itself, give you the labour saving your management has outlined is misleading you.

‘The system is being introduced by the management and experts who neither understand the technology nor the production of the newspaper.

He added: ‘Circulation will be hit if deadlines are not met and the correct editions are not sent to the correct areas. Obviously you will lose revenue because of this.

‘Advertisers will begin to question the value of your titles which will inevitably be more prone to mistakes and legal challenges. Again, this will lead to loss of revenue.

‘We are open to discussions with you in order to find a sensible way of introducing a new system if you so desire.’

Express Newspapers has set a deadline of 31 December for the redundancy process to be completed.

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