Journalists fear cuts at AOL

NUJ members at AOL UK say they have been kept in the dark about potential redundancies at the online service's content production department and are considering a ballot for industrial action.

AOL chapel members will be meeting with NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear on Wednesday morning to discuss the situation, which has emerged since the sale of part of the company in mid-October.

Time Warner announced the sale of AOL UK's internet access business to Carphone Warehouse for £370m on 11 October. The remaining content business is due to be restructured, possibly with a number of job losses.

"There's an intention to lose around 100 jobs out of the 590 jobs in AOL UK," said NUJ new media organiser Jenny Lennox, who represents a bargaining unit that includes dozens of producers, designers and journalists working on the portal site.

An AOL spokesman confirmed that 130 AOL UK staff would be transferred to Carphone Warehouse, leaving less than 400 in the remaining AOL business.

The company has informed the DTI that it is possible that it will make more than 100 redundancies, however, it is unclear whether any editorial jobs are in peril because the job losses may come from other parts of the company.

"There's supposed to be a consultation but no information has been given to the chapel, which is making them quite angry," said Lennox.

"If we are not told for the next week or two we will ballot for some form of industrial action," said one member of the AOL NUJ chapel, who asked not to be identified.

AOL is expected to launch a new portal co-branded with Carphone Warehouse, which will be the default web page for existing Carphone Warehouse subscribers.

"Our stance is that we don't actually understand why any redundancies are required at all because we're taking on extra readers and there will be more work to do. Their stance is that they are going to restructure the company, but they refuse to say how or when or in what way," the AOL staffer said.

"Uncertainty is inevitable in processes like these," the AOL spokesman said, stressing that the Carphone Warehouse deal had only been completed a fortnight ago.

"The management team are very keen to provide those answers as soon as they can," he said.

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