Telegraph lay-offs continue as union prepares for Oct strike vote

Daily Telegraph foreign correspondents in the US and Paris were axed this week as the paper faced the prospect of possible strike action before the end of October.

Washington bureau chief Alec Russell, Washington correspondent Francis Harris, New York bureau chief Harry Mount and Paris correspondent Colin Randall were told they were being axed by telephone on Tuesday.

They are the latest of 54 editorial redundancies proposed as Telegraph Group continues to move from Canary Wharf to Victoria.

NUJ national newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said: "Staff tell me they are completely appalled. They feel this management has lost its way and its credibility. The NUJ's position is that we are certainly not unaware of the need for change, but what we patently dispute is doing that without taking your journalists with you."

Two weeks ago NUJ members at a Telegraph chapel meeting voted by 91 votes to zero to hold an official ballot over possible strike action. Journalists are concerned about changes to hours and shift patterns caused by the integration of online and print, as well as the fact that many of the redundancies are to be compulsory.

The ballot is expected to be completed by the middle of October and, depending on the outcome, journalists would then need to give management seven days' notice of any industrial action.

Because more than 100 Telegraph staff are being made redundant in total (133), management has been required to inform the Department of Trade and Industry and give 90 days' notice before making any sackings.

According to the NUJ, this means Telegraph management is paying an additional 90 days' notice to staff, on top of the three months' notice most are entitled to.

In addition to this, the redundancy terms are understood to comprise one month per year of service — capped at 18 months' pay.

A Telegraph spokesman said: "We are continuing to talk with unions and providing as much information as possible."

Meanwhile at The Guardian, journalists are continuing to hold a ballot over possible industrial action in protest at a 3 per cent overall pay rise, and large discrepancies between pay for print and web journalists.

Management has objected to the NUJ's use of the company email system to send out "global emails" to all staff.

The NUJ is, however, allowed to send individual emails to members.

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