Regional newspaper giant Northcliffe is facing a backlash in Crawley, West Sussex, after a change of news distribution contract has seen paper boys and girls get redundancy notices.
A Boycott the Crawley News Facebook page has been set up following the move.
Concerned father John Wright told BBC Radio Sussex that his son had been made redundant from his paper round.
He said: ‘He took it with bemusement. Getting a redundancy letter at 15 years old is very bizarre. It’s a great work ethic for the kids. Kids have done paper rounds for hundreds of years.”
Press Gazette understands that the Crawley News has not employed paper boys and girls directly for five years after sub-contracting the work out. Following a decision made at a national level to change the contract, the existing child distributors have been made redundant and replaced with adults from outside the area.
Crawley News editor Andy Worden told Radio Sussex: ‘Local newspapers are really struggling to make money in a very difficult climate and difficult decisions are being made so money can be saved on a national scale.”
Worden told Press Gazette: “We have outsourced distribution of the Crawley News to TNT who are experts in their field. This decision was not a reflection of the contractor’s performance or the distributors they employed but simply a commercial decision which is deemed necessary to meet the current needs of the business. We are doing everything we can to help the distributors affected to get jobs with TNT.”
The Crawley News has a free distribution of 24,000 and also has a paid-for sale in the low thousands.
‘Hannah’, who set up the Boycott Facebook page, said in a recent post: “They should have looked after the people who had looked after them for over 20 years, the distributors who had done a fantastic job. They should have been given the chance to negotiate costs and lower their fee if necessary.
“Only as a last ditch attempt should they have been ruthless. They didn’t contact the advertisers to see if they would increase their payments, they didnt contact the distributor…no effort at all actually. Just push the paper boys and girls and the distribution company aside and go with the cheap foreign labour.”
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