Fifty journalists at Newsquest Glasgow have had their requests for voluntary redundancy put on hold amid claims that National Union of Journalists officials have been victimised.
Three NUJ fathers of chapel are currently suing the Glasgow Herald publisher for victimisation. According to the NUJ, the 50 voluntary cases have been put on hold because of the ongoing victimisation claims.
An official described the atmosphere as ‘like Salem [the 17th century witch-hunts]”.
Last year, the Herald group announced 250 staff were being asked to reapply for the jobs, with 40 posts being cut.
Two weeks ago, 40 journalists were told their requests for voluntary redundancy were successful. A further 10 then applied.
However, in a memo, the editor-in-chief Donald Martin wrote: ‘The voluntary redundancy process in editorial is on hold after talks with the National Union of Journalists broke down.”
Martin said voluntary redundancy was a ‘union initiative’accepted ‘in good faith”, but that talks now could not go on.
It means those who sought voluntary redundancy could face cumpolsory exits under less favourable terms.
Martin’s memo said: ‘Where staff decline an offered postâ€¦ the redundancy terms may be modified but will not be less than the legally required statutory terms.”
Staff taking voluntary redundancy have been told they would be paid two weeks for every year of service – but the statutory level is one week’s pay for every year.
The NUJ believes that talks broke down because three fathers of chapel – Ian Bruce at The Herald, and John McCann and Gordon Thompson at the Evening Times – refused to drop their legal action for victimisation.
Thompson, who has heart problems, is also suing for disability discrimination after he said his parking space was removed.
NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran told Press Gazette: ‘The company have said ‘we don’t want to lay these people off then see them in a tribunal’.
‘They have come back and said ‘sign away your right to legal action’ – but there’s no more money. Normally, companies put more money on the table.”
A date for the tribunal has not been set.
Holleran said staff who applied for redundancy will have obvious difficulties when applying for a new job at the Herald group.
‘The first criterion is you have to show commitment to the new structure,’he said. ‘If they have already applied for redundancy, how can they show that commitment?
‘The interview process has started. Some people have come from them and been stunned by the attitude.
‘It’s like something out of Salem, asking them to make out the union are Luddites and dinosaurs.”
A management spokesman was not available for comment at time of publication.