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Glasgow journalists to strike and 'work to rule'

National Union of Journalists members at The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald say they will strike on Friday in protest at compulsory redundancies at the company.

Members plan to walk out at 3pm on Friday, with Sunday Herald chapel members not returning to their desks over the weekend.

Plans for an indefinite ‘work to rule’ have also been announced, which will begin on Friday and see journalists sticking to their contracted hours.

The move follows a ballot which resulted in 74.3 per cent of those who voted saying they were in favour of strike action, and 87.3 per cent favouring action short of a strike.

A total of 275 ballot papers were sent out, with 71 votes counted. The low turn out has been blamed on last week’s postal strike, which clashed with the ballot’s deadline.

The union said it had been left with “no option” but to invoke a ballot, claiming that the company has gone back on an agreement to avoid compulsory redundancies by selecting six sub-editors at the Evening Times for redundancy – two of whom have now left.

NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said: “We have an agreement with the company on how to handle redundancies and it has breached that by selecting people for compulsory redundancy.

“The MD was quoted over the weekend as saying that the four (remaining) have been offered the opportunity to apply for other jobs – that is news to us.

“We want them to be redeployed, we don’t want them to just have the opportunity to apply for other jobs.”

Herald & Times managing director Tim Blott said: “This dispute is not about the success of our newspapers. It is about the survival of the National Union of Journalists.

“Why else would a union embark on an apparently suicidal strategy of publicly criticising the titles on which their members’ livelihoods rely – all for the sake of four compulsory redundancies out of a total workforce of 300 journalists?

“The NUJ has used every ounce of its political and media muscle to try to bully the company and its own members into submission.

“The union claims that it is trying to protect editorial standards and yet in the past three years our titles have picked up a disproportionately high number of national and international journalistic awards.

“The NUJ also claims that Newsquest has run the company into the ground while also contradicting itself by saying that the business has become extremely successful and profitable.

“They conveniently ignore the fact that Newsquest has invested £10m into improving the business over the past three years. We are investing £3m this year alone on a state of the art editorial system and an extension to our presses at Cambuslang.

“Here in Scotland we can only hope that the silent majority of our sensible journalists will see this action for what it is and ignore the strike call.”