Sun staff angry at cuts and shift-change plan

Sun journalists are angry and disappointed that there are to be more redundancies on their newspaper than any of the other News International titles and they are fighting a proposal to move production journalists from a four-night week to a nine-day fortnight.

According to insiders, managing director Ian MacDonald has suggested that the 12 job losses at The Sun might not be necessary if 150 NI employees move to a nine-day fortnight.

In total, there are to be 130 people axed, 75 of whom would be full-time employees. Apart from the dozen at The Sun, The Times is to lose four; The Sunday Times eight; Sun Online two; and News of the World Online four. The Sun also terminated the contracts of two of its graduate trainees last week. In addition, The Sun will lose 54 shifts a week; The Times 30; News of the World 25; and The Sunday Times 17 plus nine retainers.

The nine-day fortnight scheme is particularly unpopular and the News International Staff Association (Nisa) argues it would not save money but, rather, would damage The Sun. Nisa has formally opposed the redundancy proposals and any threat of compulsory redundancy. It wants full consultation.

Following appeals from dozens of Sun employees, its Nisa representative has asked permission to hold meetings in-house this week to get the views of as many people as possible. The company has said only one person from each department may attend, so Nisa is also considering an off-the-premises meeting.

The company has said volunteers would be considered for redundancy first and it may be possible to move some staffers into positions which have not been filled during its recruitment freeze.

lThe Mail on Sunday last week abruptly terminated the contracts of two of its longest-serving news sub-editors – Roger Simms, who has been at the paper since it was launched in 1982, and Robin Davison-Lungley, who has worked there for 13 years. Simms joined the paper as chief sports sub and moved to news subbing in 1993.

Acting managing editor John Wellington said it was a staff issue which the newspaper would not discuss.

The job losses are not redundancies and the paper is expected to keep up its head count, say sources.

By Jean Morgan

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