There will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the latest newsroom shake-up at Johnston Press, the company has confirmed.
The regional publisher has been in discussions with the National Union of Journalists over the rollout of its ‘Newsroom of the Future’ initiative across its Scottish weeklies division.
Plans for the rollout were delayed after some NUJ chapels passed motions saying they could not agree to the shake-up without further information
Since then, talks have been held on the restructure which have averted the need for compulsory redundancies and which are also set to result in a new ‘house agreement’ on matters such as working hours and the pay structure.
A spokeswoman for Johnston Press said: “I can confirm that there are to be no job losses on the Scottish weeklies, and that a number of vacant roles will be filled.”
And according to the NUJ, between six and eight long-standing vacancies will be filled as part of the new agreement.
Scottish organiser Paul Holleran, pictured above, said: “It will get rolled out but the change will be in line with what we are looking for in the new house agreement.
“There are genuine attempts to get new pay structures and hours.”
Paul said the restructure would not result in any compulsory redundancies and between six and eight long-term vacancies are expected to be filled after ‘positive’ discussions – but negotiations are still taking place on the details of this.
However, he said Johnston Press had invited voluntary redundancies at the Scottish titles and that a handful of people had taken this up.
They included Brian Stormont, who was group editor of JP’s Angus County Press titles, and Duncan McCallum, who was assistant editor of the Falkirk Herald, both of whom are being replaced.
As previously reported on HTFP, Brian has since taken up a new role as editor of the Alloa Advertiser.
It is understood that objections to the company’s plans in Scotland came from NUJ chapels including Grangemouth and Fife, who were concerned about staff being relocated without enough information about their new roles.
Paul added: “There was concern expressed by the chapels about the way it was perceived. People felt that there was insufficient information about what was required of them.
“There has been a series of meetings with senior management to try to sort this out.”
The company’s plans in Scotland are understood to involve the setting up of a Grangemouth hub to serve titles including the Falkirk Herald, Cumbernauld News and Linlithgow Gazette.
The nationwide rollout of ‘Newsroom of the Future’ follows a pilot project in JP’s North Midlands and South Yorkshire division, and is already under way in the company’s South Midlands and East Midlands/East Anglia divisions.
Under the initiative, most journalists will work for multiple titles while centralised hubs are created in areas such as community news and sport.