Industrial action by journalists at Newsquest titles in Scotland has been called off in an 11th-hour U-turn following a legal challenge by the company.
Staff at the Herald & Times Group were due to begin a work-to-rule tomorrow after a ballot last week found 86pc were in favour of going on strike and 96pc wanted action short of a strike after editorial redundancies were announced at the newspaper series.
But after a legal challenge to the ballot by the group, the National Union of Journalists has called it off and now plan to re-run the ballot.
NUJ spokeswoman Sarah Kavanagh told HTFP the group had argued that the name of the company had been wrong – Newsquest (Herald and Evening Times) instead of Newsquest (Herald and Times) – and that the timescale to notify the company of action had not conformed to the legal requirements.
A Herald & Times Group spokesman today confirmed to HTFP that the company had been notified by the National Union of Journalists that the pending work to rule had been cancelled.
He declined to comment further.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “Rather than acknowledge the overwhelming result of the ballot and the strength of feeling that exists amongst their journalists and making efforts to resolve the dispute, Newsquest has chosen to ride roughshod over the democratic decisions taken by staff with an attempt to block strike action by exploiting the many hurdles created by anti-trade union legislation.
“The reality is that their actions do nothing to dissipate the anger and frustration our members feel at The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times and merely renews their collective determination to fight these poorly thought out proposals, even if means action is temporarily delayed.”
The ballot was held after bosses at the group announced plans last month to axe 17 editorial jobs from its photographic and production departments, with the union claiming this would include eight compulsory redundancies.
The ballot forms were sent out to members at the titles, which include The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times, earlier this month after talks to avoid compulsory redundancies apparently broke down.
The cuts were announced as part of plans from the group to introduce new editorial practices and new high-tech ways of working.