As journalists prepare to walk on strike at Newsquest Glasgow this Friday – the NUJ claimed today that they have been “de-recognised”.
The NUJ today said that staff had lost negotiating rights as a result and warned that the move was designed to pave the way for future cuts.
Newsquest regional director for Glasgow Tim Blott said that the house agreement with the Glasgow NUJ branch – which includes the chapels of the Glasgow Evening Times, Herald and Sunday Herald – had actually expired in May, despite efforts by the management to negotiate a renewed deal.
Speaking to Press Gazette, Blott said: ‘We pointed out to the union that we served notice on the house agreement and the purpose for doing that was that neither side was happy with some of the clauses. We were due to have meetings to discuss this and organized more meetingsâ€¦they have singularly failed to attend. The agreement had actually expired in May.”
In a statement, he said. “This dispute is not about the success of our newspapers but about the survival of the NUJ. Why else would a union embark on an apparently suicidal strategy of publicaly citicising the titles on which their member rely – all for the sake of four compulsory redundancies out of staff of 300 journalists?”.
Despite the lack of house agreement, Blott confirmed that Newsquest would continue to negotiate with the union over the current round of redundancies – which includes four compulsory cuts at the Evening Times, all thought to be sub-editors.
Newsquest is waiting for a response from its lawyers over the legality of the strike and Blott said that ‘options are open’regarding further action towards striking staff should it be declared illegal.
Press Gazette understands that editors of all three titles are working behind the scenes to re-deploy staff from the Evening Times to the Herald titles, where there are volunteers for a redundancy package.
Blott also cast doubt on Friday’s industrial action due to union members’ low turnout in last week’s vote. Around 73 per cent of NUJ members at the three titles voted in favour of strike action but this represents only 23 per cent of members. The NUJ blamed last week’s postal strike for the low turnout.
NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said the company had ‘terminated’the agreement and that it had threatened that staff may lose negotiating rights as a result. He said: ‘They plan more redundancies and they want to get rid of people without going through the proper agreements. Under the agreement they have to go through a certain routine.
‘He [Blott] is more interested in establishing the precedent that compulsory redundancies are OKâ€¦ It’s just greed.”
Holleran said the union would seek legal action to re-establish the house agreement and regain negotiating rights.