24 April 2014

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Newsquest journalists vote for action in fresh ballot

Journalists at three Newsquest titles in Scotland have once again voted in favour of taking industrial action over redundancies at the newspapers.

The National Union of Journalists reballoted its members at The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times after its first vote met with a legal challenge from the regional publisher.

The union has now said that in the latest ballot, which had an increased turnout, 97pc were in favour of taking action short of a strike against the redundancy terms, and 76pc supported taking part in strike action.

In the first ballot, carried out last month, 86pc of those who voted were in favour of going on strike and 96pc wanted action short of a strike.

NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said: “This shows the strength of feeling among editorial staff against the harsh imposition of job cuts on the cheap. This company needs to understand the NUJ will not stand back and let members be treated like this.

“We offered to negotiate the changes as we have done in other newspaper companies but for some reason Newsquest preferred conflict to a constructive partnership approach.”

NUJ Scotland tweeted: “Another great result in the re-run Newsquest ballot. Increased vote and over 97pc in favour of taking action against redundancy terms.”

Chapel members are due to meet later this week to discuss their next steps.

A spokesman for the Herald and Times Group confirmed that the company had been notified of the ballot results by the NUJ.

But he said only 55 members, or around one-third of the editorial staff, had voted as being prepared to take part in a strike, while 70 members, which was less than half the staff, were prepared to take part in action short of a strike.

The dispute arose over plans for 17 editorial redundancies from the photographic and production departments at the titles, which the union claimed would include eight compulsory redundancies.

The NUJ said the compulsory cuts could have been avoided if the company had offered better redundancy terms.

Union members were due to begin a work-to-rule earlier this month but this was called off after a legal challenge by Newsquest’s Herald and Times Group.

The group argued that the name of the company in the first ballot had been wrong – Newsquest (Herald and Evening Times) instead of Newsquest (Herald and Times) – and that the timescale to notify the company of action had not conformed to legal requirements.



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