Herts and Essex strike suspended

NUJ members at Iliffe News & Media’s Herts and Essex Newspapers have suspended the threat of strike action following concessions in the company's restructure which is to see numerous senior editorial positions axed.

As part of the restructure plans, Herts and Essex Observer editor Val Brown's position is to be incorporated into that of editor-in-chief Colin Grant, against whom the chapel had held a vote of no confidence.

The posts of editor and news editor at the Hoddesdon and Cheshunt Mercury series and its sister title the Hertfordshire Mercury will be replaced with one overall editor and news editor while the Harlow Star and Lea Valley Star series editor will be replaced with one editor.

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Those whose jobs are at risk are to apply for the new positions or for voluntary redundancy in September.

Last Thursday the chapel voted 82.8 per cent in favour of strike action against the restructure but have agreed to suspend action after management made concessions in its restructure proposals.

The agreements include a "no-holds-barred" review process to be carried out two months after the restructure is in place. This could include a review of the entire restructure if it has not worked out.

Voluntary redundancy packages have been "significantly enhanced" though the chapel is trying to improve them even further.

The NUJ forum has been reconstituted with immediate effect which, according the union, the company arbitrarily abolished.

The company has agreed to take on a production editor as requested by the union and has agreed to review the decision to close an office in Hoddeson. HEN has also agreed to employ an additional sub editor on a freelance basis.

In a statement the chapel said: "While it is accepted that some members will be disappointed that the restructuring is to go ahead in any form, it was the view of the majority of members present…that the chapel could not risk jeopardising the concessions already achieved by the negotiating team, by going out on strike.

"However, it is important to point out that if HEN is foolish enough to break any of its promises, the option of conducting a ballot remains open to the chapel."

Meetings will be held from the start of September to discuss whether the senior editors take voluntary redundancy or apply for jobs elsewhere in the company.

Chapel are to meet in 17 August to discuss what should be included in the company's restructure review.

HEN managing director Paul Thompson is on holiday.




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