Express staff: Desmond should sell up

Express Newspaper journalists have demanded owner Richard Desmond either sell his newspapers or use his vast fortune to ride out the current recession, rather than axe further staff.

Staff yesterday condemned Desmond’s “greed-driven” plans to slash jobs across the Daily and Sunday Express and the Daily and Sunday Star titles as further details emerged of which areas of the business would be affected by the latest round of job cuts.

Press Gazette understands that management outlined to staff yesterday how it was looking to cut around 70 editorial posts as part of a broad review across several departments of the businesses.

The cuts wanted by management includ up to nine employees from the Glasgow office, as many as five district reporters, six from the features department, up to five staff photographers and a further nine from the sub-editing operations across the four papers.

It emerged last week that Express Newspapers was looking to axe journalists as part of a fresh round of lay-offs of 94 posts.

Last year Express Newspapers looked cut more than 80 staff and casual journalists, mainly from the sub-editing departments of the Daily Express and Sunday Express, as part of a cost saving measure.

The latest management move to reduce staff numbers has caused anger amongst staff.

More than 150 members of the National Union of Journalists chapels at Express Newspapers attended an emergency meeting yesterday where they unanimously passed a resolution condemning proprietor Richard Desmond’s “greed-driven plans to slash jobs across all the titles and endanger their future”.

The resolution said: “This chapel demands Richard Desmond use his vast personal fortune to ride out the current recession rather than force his staff to make further sacrifices.

“Alternatively, this chapel calls on Richard Desmond to sell the titles to a proprietor who will restore them to their former status.”

Union members also demanded a health and safety check to address claims that their workplace was overcrowded, dirty and home to mice.

Since Richard Desmond bought Express Newspapers for £125m in 2000 he has paid himself up to £46m a year.

In 2008, Express Newspapers recorded pre-tax profits of £4.8m on turnover down eight per cent to £257.7m. In 2007 group pre-tax profit was £54.9m.

Express Newspapers declined to comment.

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