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Journalists' no confidence vote in Archant management

Journalists angry over the way a redundancy process has been handled have issued a vote of no confidence in their management.

National Union of Journalists members at Archant Norfolk say the process of reducing editorial numbers by 34 has been “error strewn”.

In a chapel meeting yesterday afternoon at the company’s Norwich head office, the NUJ formally passed a motion of no confidence in management.

The company is looking to cut editorial posts, merge certain functions and implement a new editorial system at the Norwich Evening News, Eastern Daily Press and associated weeklies and websites.

A union statement said: “The NUJ feels that while editorial staff have conducted themselves with dignity and professionalism throughout a long period of uncertainty since last November, our management has added hugely to the stress and emotional pressure on our journalists with a redundancy process that has seemed confused and ill-prepared from the start.

“It has consistently claimed that its proposal for job losses is based on the implementation of efficient new technology but, having shifted from 54 to 34 proposed redundancies in the space of days, has further undermined its credibility with mistakes over new rotas, changed its mind within minutes under questioning on the new pay scales and generally demonstrates it doesn’t yet know enough about the new system to have based real, pragmatic decisions on the technology.

“It has faced a legal challenge over the fairness of the process and shifted its position, throwing many ‘not at risk’ people back into uncertainty over something that should simply have been right from day one.”

The union added that Archant said the recession was forcing them to make cuts and that a new £2m piece of editorial software would mean the newsroom could operate effectively with fewer staff.

Archant Norfolk MD Stephan Phillips said: “I am disappointed by the lack of integrity in this NUJ statement.

“We are involved in consultations with elected staff representatives which includes members of the NUJ.

“This involves listening and responding. When we agree to consider a point raised in the meeting and subsequently modify the plan, we are adhering to the principles of the consultation process.

“It is not a mistake when we make these changes. A number of the elected staff representatives who are consulting with us have described our meetings as constructive and positive.

“Therefore I find the comments from the NUJ as puzzling, if not disingenuous.”


Jeremy Blake and Bob Morrell (09/04/2009 10:28:38)
Follow the French?
I’m sorry but we love this story. Rather than roll over and accept redundancy Archant employees are fighting back. They could go further. As anyone who read the story yesterday about the French firm who are ‘holding’ their British bosses as hostages would know. Now we can’t condone criminal behavior but we do admire the passion. How sad that the company concerned didn’t realise that the energy and belief that their staff are now displaying could have been used to generate business and work. Business owners, we are sure, do not make these decision lightly, and must feel dreadful about letting people go. This may be because they are using outdated thinking and have not considered more up-to-date methods of changing their business model. Many come to these decisions through unsafe data, through made up predictions and unsound forecasts. We wonder how hard they have tried to find alternatives. When it comes to newspapers, they have relied too long on the written word and consultations between commercial and non commercial people are often likely to result in tensions as there hasn’t been strong enough communication and respect up till now. When this process is over Archant and other regional news organisations will have to change their thinking, then their commercial performance will improve. There is help available.
Posted by Bob Morrell and Jeremy Blake