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Job cuts plan in balance after redundancy scheme oversubscribed

Plans to axe 17 jobs at a group of weekly newspapers may have to undergo a rethink – after more people applied for voluntary redundancy than the number of roles being reduced.

As previously reported on HTFP, Johnston Press is seeking to cut up to 17 jobs from across its Yorkshire Weekly Newspapers division as part of a restructure – but it is understood that 21 people have applied for redundancy.

As a result the company may have to refuse some applications, or alternatively create four new roles so all 21 applications for VR can go through.

Titles affected by the plans include the Halifax Courier, Wakefield Express, Dewsbury News, Scarborough News and Harrogate Advertiser.

When the proposals were first published in March, they sparked objections from the National Union of Journalists which wrote to JP chief executive Ashley Highfield about the plans.

Its Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper group chapel issued a statement voicing concern over impact of the proposed cutbacks, claiming the backing  of 50 community representatives including local MPs and business groups.

The NUJ has confirmed it is still in discussions with JP over the exact number of redundancies.

A Johnston Press spokeswoman said:  “A number of applications for voluntary redundancy have been received in Yorkshire and those applications are currently being considered.”

When the redundancies were announced, a YWNG chapel spokeswoman said: “Our members believe passionately in the importance of local journalism but are being prevented from giving readers the level of news and sports coverage they deserve because of a lack of staff and investment in our papers – and any further jobs cuts will only add to this problem.

“The support we have received from the community shows that the wider public also values local journalism and the work our members do.”

The chapel claimed that successive cutbacks had led to the closure of seven of YWNG’s eight district offices and a cut in the number of editorial staff on the eight papers from 52 to 22.

 

In the letter to Ashley, it questioned how the papers would continue to cover local elections, council meetings and the courts or run campaigns if further cuts were implemented.

11 comments

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  • May 11, 2015 at 8:40 am
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    “Currently being considered?” I know several people who have already been told (a good couple of weeks ago) that their application for voluntary redundancy has been accepted. More JP spin of exactly the kind that drives its journalists mad when it comes from other companies and organisations. Why can’t they just be honest for once?

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  • May 11, 2015 at 8:42 am
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    Why the rush to leave a company with such a glowing digital future and reputation for appreciating its best staff? Surely not?

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  • May 11, 2015 at 9:17 am
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    Thanks HTFP for continuing to keep everyone in the industry well informed of developments bad and sometimes good.

    But why the intros which mention ‘a group of weekly newspapers’ when there is a 1 in 4 chance we are talking about one of the big (and getting smaller) players?

    I don’t think many HTFP readers choked on their corn flakes when they got to the second par and the big reveal that you were talking about a JP ‘restructure’.

    And few now swallow the claim that decisions are made locally or even regionally, or that these things are ever up for consultation or negotiation.

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  • May 11, 2015 at 9:29 am
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    “The support we have received from the community” means diddley-squat to the accountants running the industry, and the union is being naïve and disingenuous here. We are talking about a profit-driven business in rapid decline, not a social welfare project. This confusion of language — “the wider public values our work”, for example — shows the union is out of touch with harsh realities, a stance cannot help its members in these difficult days. The public manifestly doesn’t value the work if people aren’t buying the papers or advertising in them. Get real, people!

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  • May 11, 2015 at 10:03 am
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    It’ll break the hearts of the suits that they won’t be able to toss four people out in their ears, even though the employees want out.

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  • May 11, 2015 at 10:38 am
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    I don’t think JP need employees to fill in the ‘Your say’ survey to see how they feel. Simply offer VR and watch the scramble to get out.
    If it was a sinking ship I expect even the women and children first rule would be thrown out with the crush.

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  • May 11, 2015 at 2:33 pm
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    This is a problem for JP that was bound to arise. Anyone of a certain age, financially stable or with other good job prospects, that works for JP is hanging on for redundancy. Why leave when you could leave with redundancy package: maybe an almost decent one if you have been with your current employer for over 20 years? When I listen to Radio Leeds, it appears that many of their staff are ex-JP reporters who must have pocketed redundancy and walked into a job with a better employer. (They still cannot use correct grammar, however, and often report that they are “stood” outside … which infuriates me). The word is out, locally, about JP and it will pay the price in sales and reduced ad revenue. What calibre of staff will it retain, or attract?

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  • May 11, 2015 at 3:39 pm
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    My girlfriend tells me on one JP paper in the south the whole editorial staff took VR. The love affair with JP goes on.

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  • May 11, 2015 at 10:33 pm
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    will the last person to leave please switch off the lights!!

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