The National Union of Journalists has raised questions about whether plans by Johnston Press to transfer pre-press work to India could be illegal.
Peter Lazenby, father of chapel for the NUJ at the Yorkshire Evening Post, has hit out at proposals by the regional publisher to outsource half of its advertisement creation work to India, with the loss of around 60-70 UK jobs.
Last Friday the company announced plans to transfer the work away from JP centres in Leeds, Sheffield, Peterborough and Edinburgh to a partnership of the Press Association and Express KCS Ltd.
Affected staff claim they were given just one week to decide if they wished to move to work in India but Peter said he believed the offer by Johnston Press was not genuine and questioned its legality.
He said the company did not appear to be complying with Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations which are designed to protect workers whose jobs are transferred to a new company.
Said Peter: “It seems to me that what they are doing could be illegal. My belief is that JP has no intention of transferring any of the staff, probably believing no-one would want to go to India anyway.
“However some staff have expressed an interest. JP has responded by saying there will be no help with relocation costs, and no trial period for anyone opting to go.
“TUPE transfers in my experience always include relocation help, trial period and other assistance if TUPE is being used genuinely and sincerely.”
Peter said around 40 staff in Leeds were affected by the plans but only two of these were union members, one NUJ and one Unite.
He added: “I am acting on behalf of the NUJ member and have asked our full-time officers to investigate the legality or otherwise of what JP are doing.”
Commenting on our original story, one of the affected staff in Leeds said the company was offering no help with transferring to India and there had been no direct consultation about it – but employees had to make a decision by tomorrow.
The worker said: “The offer of transfer is to attempt to remain within the legality of a TUPE transfer as being made redundant without would be illegal, as the work is ongoing.
“If we were to transfer, it seems we would be working in the UK on the 24th August and in India on the 27th, with no aid from the company whatsoever.”
The company’s announcement said it planned to expand its service desk in Sheffield with seven new roles in traffic and workflow management and affected staff could apply for these vacancies.
Johnston Press has not so far responded to requests for further comment.