28 July 2014

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Journalists stressed-out by JP cuts says union

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.

10 Comments

  1. Billy Bewildered

    The company hasn’t responded and probably won’t. I’m honestly not sure they care about stress levels or what chaos making all these cutbacks leaves behind, it’s just about the money.

    And while money may be important when it comes to keeping the business alive, some of JP’s methods leave a lot to be desired.

    Report this comment

  2. Northcliffe Grafter

    Errrrr..it’s not just Johnston Press, come and work at Northcliffe.

    Report this comment

  3. Corporal Clegg

    Morale is at an all-time low in JP. And that’s saying something…

    Report this comment

  4. The Price Is Wrong

    December is rolling round. Ready for the next round of JP cuts.

    Report this comment

  5. Scoop

    Cut and run chaps. Find something else to do. I don’t blame anyone for staying where they are, but if you feel under threat the probability is that you are under threat. So find a way out, rather than awaiting the axe.

    Report this comment

  6. BinaryBoy, Binaryville

    Worse is to come. Much worse. Hark, the death knell.

    Report this comment

  7. ivylikes, hants

    Errrr.. it’s not just Johnston and Northcliffe, try Newsquest

    Report this comment

  8. writing on the wall

    Others may argue, but the worst hit folk at JP are the reporters who are underpaid and over-worked.
    All the extra work created by the shedding of jobs seems to fall to reporters who are not only expected to put in lots of extra hours for free, but with extra responsibility and stress and are the first to be blamed when things go wrong.
    All this when there are still plenty of people at JP who are overpaid and underworked.
    If you’re looking to make cuts Ashley, try looking at middle management and at newsdesks and picturedesks where bosses have time to do their online shopping and chat about trivia all day while those around them work themselves into the ground.

    Report this comment

  9. Vulnerable

    Has anyone done the sums… just how many journalists have lost their jobs at JP, Northcliffe, Newsquest over the past five years? And why is the NUJ only just waking up to the problem?

    Report this comment

  10. paperwatcher

    re-train! re-train! re-train!

    Report this comment



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