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Journalists pass no confidence vote in editorial director

A group of journalists at Archant Norfolk have passed a vote of no confidence in its editorial director James Foster in a row over job cuts.

The Norwich-based publisher wants to cut 18 editorial jobs across its titles which include the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, although it claims to be increasing the number of news reporters.

The company’s  proposals were debated at a meeting of editorial staff yesterday at which journalists voted unanimously to reject the plans and pass a motion of no confidence in Mr Foster.

Now they have written to Archant Norfolk managing director Johnny Hustler, asking him to intervene to resolve the dispute.

In a letter sent to Mr Hustler by five journalists claiming to speak on behalf of editorial staff, they said negotiations with Mr Foster had broken down.

“It is an ongoing concern among the representatives that the management team, as led by James, is simply and continually failing to communicate the thinking behind the new structure and how, given the reduction in numbers, titles will continue to be produced and staffed in a manageable way,” it says.

“Because of this breakdown, elected representatives can no longer progress in any meaningful negotiations with James following the no-confidence vote.”

The letter calls on Mr Hustler “to take the lead from this point on” saying:  “You hold the key to resolving these issues.”

Yesterday’s letter goes on to question whether there will be an “appropriate level of staff cover” in the sports department following Norwich City’s recent promotion to the Premiership.

And it claims:  “There is a serious risk that by pressing ahead with these proposals the company is ignoring that fact and creating a conveyor-belt culture where there is no time or resources to give over to the quality of the products being produced.”

The National Union of Journalists’ chapel at Archant Norfolk has already voted to hold a ballot on industrial action over the proposals.

In a statement, Archant Norfolk said it was making good progress in the consultation over editorial job losses, and has reduced the number of expected job losses from 23 to 18.

Mr Foster said:  “We were clear at the start of the consultation process that we were committed to listening to the editorial teams.  We also said that no reporters were at risk during the process.

“Thanks to the feedback we have had from staff, we have reviewed our plans and in fact increased the number of reporters by four.

“We now move into the next stage of our consultation process.”


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  • May 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    This story needs an update.

    Speaking to my former editorial colleagues at Archant, I gather that things have moved on. Since what was described as a meeting of “all” editorial staff earlier this week – which, in fact, only a minority of staff attended – the NUJ/staff reps asked everyone to respond to a simple email poll. The result of this poll? Forty-seven staff voted to carry on talking to management (and yes, that includes James Foster). Thirteen agreed with the earlier vote and wanted the union/reps to boycott further talks. That hardly sounds like an overwhelming endorsement of the NUJ/staff reps’ position or their claim to speak for all staff.

    Talking to my former colleagues, there is still anger at the management’s proposals. There is genuine concern about the process. I don’t want to see my former colleagues lose their jobs. But the people I’ve spoken to want to see constructive engagement rather than political point-scoring. I’m told the management has changed it’s position a little. So keep talking, keep pushing, rather than posturing.

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