The National Union of Journalists has claimed regional publisher Newsquest is “on a path to oblivion” after the announcement of plans to axe up to 15 subbing jobs.
As reported on HTFP yesterday, the company is proposing to close its production hub in Worcester and transfer the work to a new copy-editing unit in Newport, Gwent, where up to seven new roles could be available.
The NUJ said the move would create “less attractive newspapers” and accused the company of ignoring recent government pronouncements about the economy.
Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “Our members are in shock at the ambush prepared for them by managers when they came back to start a new working week.
“The company justifies its actions by blaming the economy and its prospects. But, surprisingly for a newspaper company, it seems to have missed the recent proclamations from the government, the CBI and many other business groups that the corner has apparently been turned.”
Among the titles affected by the move is the Berrows Worcester Journal, first published in 1690 and the longest continuously published newspaper in the world.
Added Chris: “We will be working with our members to try to mitigate the impact of this process but it is clear to see that the company is hell-bent on driving out jobs – and with them a wealth of experience – in the production of its journalism. It sends a stark message to newsrooms in the group up and down the country.”
Bob Smith, father of chapel of the Newsquest Group Chapel said: “Journalists and readers alike know that moving production out of the local area creates less attractive newspapers which add to the already alarming decline in sales which Newsquest’s managers are overseeing.
“If this annihilation of subbing departments continues across Newsquest, our members must be fearful, for not only their jobs, but for the future of the company’s titles.”
Calling on the companmy’s US owners to act, he added: “Perhaps Gannett’s shareholders should start looking at the behaviour of the company’s British management who seem to be hell-bent on pursuing the path to oblivion.”
Worcester News group editor Peter John, who made the announcement to staff on Monday, declined to respond to the union’s comments. On Monday he said the company would try to avoid making redundancies and that a consultation with affected staff members would continue until at least the end of this month.