The National Union of Journalists is to raise concerns with the government over the award of a coveted business accolade to a regional publisher’s production hub.
As reported by HTFP last week, Newsquest’s group editorial services unit, based in Newport, had been awarded the Investors in People Bronze Standard.
But the NUJ has hit out at the award, highlighting what it termed the “summer of sackings” and now the “autumn of axings” at the regional publisher.
The NUJ says it will examine whether the Investors in People standard was “legitimately awarded” and will write letters raising its concerns to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and to IIP.
The Newport hub, which now employs 140 people, brings together newspaper planning, page-design and copy-editing, producing copy for more than 250 Newsquest publications.
But the NUJ claims the jobs in Newport are typically lower-paid and lower-skilled than the ones they have replaced at other Newsquest centres across the country.
Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ group co-ordinator, said: “The awarding of Investors in People Bronze Standard to Newsquest was greeted with uniform disbelief by our members.
“While the gong was given specifically for the Newport hub – whose staff are in an impossible position, given the huge volume of titles they handle – it is clear that the award body had no interest in seeing the wider context involved.
“In July, the NUJ was forced to categorise Newsquest’s apparent demonic devotion to redundancies as a ‘summer of sackings’ and chapels in London called 12-day strike action over savage cuts.
“The company’s record on employment is shocking since it neither invests in proper staffing levels nor attempts to pay its journalists decently. Most people have suffered from having virtually no pay rises for seven years.”
He added: “Our members cringe when they see the company seeking to gain ill-deserved kudos from a public body. We feel either the Investors in People organisation has absolutely the wrong criteria when judging companies such as Newsquest, or they are wilfully blind and just see any business willing to contact it as a worthy recipient of its blandishments.
“We do not think Newsquest deserves this promotion and publicity and shall be examining at whether the IIP has legitimately awarded it.”
The union has highlighted job cuts at Newsquest centres across the country, including the axing of photographers at many regional newspapers.
The IIP award was partly given for a graduate training programme run in conjunction with Cardiff University, which saw more than 30 new staff gain National Council for the Training of Journalists qualifications and a similar number of staff gaining management training.
When the award was announced, Paul Devoy from Investors in People said it was the sign of a company “truly committed to good people management practice.”
Newsquest had not responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.