Tindle Newspapers has responded to industrial action at its North London division today by warning staff of possible redundancies.
Nine journalists based at Tindle’s Enfield offices, which produce the nine titles that make up the North London & Herts Newspapers series, began the first of two three-day walkouts this morning.
They were warned of the potential redundancies hours before the walkout.
The nine NUJ members claim more than a third of editorial staff have left without being replaced in Enfield, and that only three reporters have been left to ‘churn’out nine newspapers a week.
Tindle’s management argues that it is the only newspaper group in the UK that has not made any journalists redundant in recent years and says that it has to curb losses at the Enfield division for the sake of all the staff employed there.
In a statement today it Tindle said t may not be able to continue with the no-redundancies policy.
‘Regretfully, we may no longer be able to uphold that resolution, in the face of the newspapers’ losses at Enfield.
‘The rest of the group is currently supporting Enfield, but it is not possible for the group to continue to support the current level of loss. It follows that unless we are able to increase our profitability dramatically over the coming weeks, we will need to take action to make the papers profitable.
‘We may do this by re-structuring the newspapers, which could potentially result in redundancies. If any such proposals are made regarding the future of the papers, we will be consulting with affected staff before a decision is made as to whether or not to implement these proposals.”
Responding to the statement from Tindle management, the NUJ’s head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said: ‘We are concerned that management is responding to a serious issue by making an apparent threat of redundancies at this late hour. This approach is not addressing the issues at the heart of the dispute, which are non-replacement of staff and the quality of local journalism. Certainly, management’s action can only make matters worse.”
The striking journalists have also won support of local MPs.
The Conservative MP for Enfield North Nick De Bois said: ‘I am very concerned about the issues raised by staff at these papers. Residents in Enfield are proud to have – and deserve to continue getting – such a good quality, campaigning newspaper that can boast a distinctive style. We must remember what an important role regional newspapers play in the local community.’
Labour MP for Edmonton Andy Love also weighed in to the dispute. He said: ‘I’ve watched the standard of these papers drop over past months with great sadness. I believe that the local journalists are under additional pressures due to the reductions in staff and the number of papers they are expected to produce. This leaves them less able to investigate and evaluate stories, which not only affects quality, it affects community accountability as well.’
North London & Herts Newspapers publishes: The Enfield Advertiser, The Edmonton Advertiser, The Winchmore Hill Advertiser & Herald, The Enfield Gazette, The Barnet &Potters Bar Press, The East Barnet Press & Advertiser, The Edgware & Mill Hill Press, The Hendon & Finchley Press and The Haringey Advertiser.