Fury as Express bosses cut canteen hours

 Express journalists are furious that their canteen is to be closed from next Thursday from 5.30pm on weekdays and all weekend. The cost cut has been made without consulting staff.

It follows Mirror Group’s announcement last week that it was closing its canteen and providing vending mach-ines instead.

Northern & Shell, which owns the Express Newspaper titles, is blaming Lord Hollick’s United News & Media for the decision, since the latter still runs Ludgate House.

An Express NUJ chapel e-mail claims it is N&S’s fault: "Newspapers may be a 24-hour operation, but as from next week the canteen will close at 5.30pm on weekdays and will not open at all throughout the weekend.

"Northern & Shell has decided to dispense with the annual fee it pays to Eaton, the canteen operator, to keep the canteen open for people working evenings and weekends.

"The decision has been made without any effort to consult with staff, and no credible alternatives have been proposed – there is talk of vending machines but, given the current lack of space in the office, where they would go is anyone’s guess." The chapel believes it is not just an issue for its members. It affects everyone working in Ludgate House and "is a clear indication of how the management views the welfare of its employees", said the e-mail, adding: "Journalists who want to express their opinions about the arbitrary decision are asked to e-mail a chapel officer or contact Express boss Richard Desmond, editorial director Paul Ashford or the two managing directors, Martin Ellice and Stan Myerson."

The e-mail adds ironically: "Perhaps executives lucky enough to have their own kitchens complete with butlers would like to extend some hospitality to the poor old hacks who will be forced to bring in flasks and butty boxes to fend off hunger pangs."

An N&S spokesman said: "We can confirm United News & Media has taken the decision to close down the canteen out of hours and we are considering the implications of their action."  

By Jean Morgan

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