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Bosses ‘confident’ of avoiding compulsory job cuts

Bosses at Newsquest in Oxfordshire have told staff they are “confident” of avoiding compulsory job cuts in a forthcoming subbing shake-up.

As reported last month, the regional publisher is planning to create a centralised production operation in Oxford for its Oxfordshire and Wiltshire titles, including the Oxford Mail and Swindon Advertiser.

At the outset, the company said that the plans were expected to result in the loss of up to six sub-editing jobs, but it now expects these to come from voluntary redundancies.

The news came to light in an internal “FAQ” document on the changes issued to staff yesterday, a copy of which has been passed to HoldtheFrontPage.

In answer to the question whether there been “any takers” for redundancy, the document states: “We have had many requests for redundancy illustrations and are giving people time to consider their options.”

On the question of what will happen if there are not enough volunteers, it states: “We are confident that we will. However, if we did not, we would consider alternatives, like natural wastage or compulsory redundancies.”

In the event of there being more applicants for voluntary redudancy than then company can afford to lose, it says it will give priority to applicants who currently work in Swindon and Devizes.

The new hub is due to be up and running by 31 March, with 23 sub-editors due to be based there.

The document also reveals that the number of job losses may drop to five if the head of the proposed new unit were to be recruited internally.

The post of regional head of production is currently being advertised on HoldtheFrontPage.

All sub-editors at Newsquest titles in the two counties are affected by the plans, apart from sports subs who will remain in individual centres.

Other titles affected include the Banbury Cake and the Wiltshire Times Series.

4 comments

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  • February 2, 2011 at 10:44 am
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    If the sports subs can remain in individual centres, there is no technical reason why the news subs can’t stay, too. Setting up subbing hubs is usually a way of getting maximum mileage out of fewer subs ahead of reducing the pagination due to soaring newsprint costs. How many companies have taken the precaution of bumping up their cover prices before their new slimline products are unveiled to unsuspecting readers?

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  • February 2, 2011 at 11:36 am
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    Ex insider. Spot on. Dragging people many miles into a hub simply isn’t needed with technology. You can even work from home. Why can’t bosses treat staff like human beings any more? Because they are dancing to the tune played by some bean counter in head office. local management is dead in most national companies.

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  • February 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm
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    Apparently Newsquest technology in this region is too outdated to allow pages to be called up at home. However, there doesn’t seem to be any earthly reason why the work can’t be split between Swindon and Oxford but management are in oil tanker mode – it’s impossible to change their course before our lives hit the rocks… No doubt there’ll be another shake-up 10 months or a year down the line but they won’t admit to having got anything wrong with this masterplan at the moment.

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  • February 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm
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    Just a note Ex-Insider for info. Newspaper bosses have always used the excuse of newsprint increases as justification for many decisions (cover price increases, job losses, lack of pay rise provision etc, etc) but in actual fact even double digit % newsprint increases do not unduly affect the overall production costs. It’s just used as an excuse – believe me, I’m an independent publisher!!

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