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Journalists at Newsquest's Herald, Times and National titles in Scotland to ballot for industrial action

Journalists at Newsquest’s Scotland titles, including flagship dailies The Herald and The National, are set to ballot for industrial action over proposed staff cuts.

Members of the National Union of Journalists who work on the titles fear compulsory redundancies will fall if Newsquest cannot achieve planned cost savings of £500,000 by other means.

The ballot, which is set to open this week and close on 9 December, covers editorial staff on The Herald, Herald on Sunday, Glasgow Evening Times, The National and the Sunday National.

The titles are all based in Glasgow. The number of staff affected is not clear.

The NUJ said the ballot comes after Newsquest unveiled a series of “structural changes” which staff fear will have a “detrimental impact on the quality of their work, health and family lives”.

John Toner, NUJ national organiser for Scotland, said: “Our members are very committed to providing Scotland with quality journalism, and our survey demonstrates that commitment, despite the severe reduction in staffing levels over many years.

“This latest blow has galvanised them, and they don’t believe it is possible to work harder than they do already, with fewer people than they already have.

“To add insult to injury, it was reported that Newsquest has made a substantial bid for JPI Media’s portfolio of regional newspapers, while at the same time making cuts of up to £500,000. This news was met with incredulity by the beleaguered staff.

“These papers and brands have been mainstays of Scottish journalism for more than a century, and staff are no longer willing to tolerate these constant and destructive cuts.

“As always, we remain willing to talk to Newsquest management.”

A Newsquest Scotland spokesperson said: “We continue to be open to discussions with the NUJ and are in fact meeting with them tomorrow.

“We are disappointed that the union has taken this stance – particularly as they are well aware that the environment for news publishers remains very challenging due to the substantial loss of revenue to other digital advertising platforms.

“At Newsquest Scotland we are focused on ensuring that news brands have a sustainable future – which means we need to continue to restructure how we operate to ensure we work as efficiently as possible across the business.

“Whilst these potential redundancies are regrettable, it means we can continue to invest in quality journalism for many years to come.”

The NUJ said it had conducted a stress survey in the weeks before the company’s announcement on redundancies.

It reveals, among other findings, that 83 per cent of respondents believe the quality of their title has declined over the last year; and 78 per cent say their workloads have increased over the last year.

Just nine per cent said they had confidence in the current management at Newsquest.

The publisher has pulled all of its titles from the ABC circulation audit.

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