Union leaders are demanding urgent talks with Johnston Press following yesterday’s announcement that the company expects to make £30m in cuts this year.
The National Union of Journalists claims that the cuts are leading to increased workload and stress levels that are “endangering staff.”
In an interim management statement yesterday, the company estimated it would make savings of £30m this year, up £5m from the previous estimates.
At the same time, chief executive Ashley Highfield revealed that the company incurred costs of £11.7m on debt refinancing and £13.8m on restructuring.
Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary, said: “The NUJ remains apprehensive about the fast pace of change at Johnston Press.
“We have expressed our concerns at the shareholders’ meeting and our reps have tried to make their views known within the company.
“The major concerns for us are the levels of workload and stress among the staff during this period of change; it is a ticking time-bomb.
“We urge the company to engage actively with the NUJ to address these problems and to build upon the willingness of our members to make the transition work.”
Issues the union wants to discuss include:
• The impact of redundancies on the whole staff.
• The problems caused by the centralisation of the subbing operation.
• The stress levels among staff
• The ambition of Johnston Press to have half of its content written by readers
In a statement accompanying yesterday’s figures, Ashley Highfield said: “We have moved forward with the re-launch of our titles with encouraging early signs, and our digital business has seen a huge increase in audience this year, as well as the launch of services across iPad, mobile and PC, which will provide a spring- board to future digital revenue growth.
“As a result, the business is moving onto a more stable footing as we go into 2013 when the full benefits of the changes will be seen.”
The company has not so far responded to the union’s comments.