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Union urges Reach to extend consultation into hundreds of job cuts

chris-morleyUnion chiefs have called for Reach plc to extend the timetable of its consultation process in relation to hundreds of planned job cuts affecting journalists.

The National Union of Journalists has written to the publisher to call for the extension as it seeks to “minimise” the number of jobs lost as part of the cuts.

Reach is planning to cut around 550 roles across the business, more than 300 of are understood to be editorial and circulation posts.

The NUJ’s group chapel at Reach says it is aiming to prevent compulsory redundancies among members and improve the existing “inadequate” minimum-payment redundancy scheme currently on offer to those working in the Local World subsidiary.

In a letter to Reach, the chapel has called on the company to immediately extend the timetable “to allow for more meaningful and reasonable collective consultation with the employee representatives”.

Chris Morley, Reach NUJ national coordinator, said: “The enormous challenge of recent months for our members, working against incredible obstacles thrown up by the pandemic, to produce quality journalism is now turning into a struggle to remain their community’s journalistic champion.

“From the soundings we have taken since the announcement to the City of these big job losses, members have not bought into this vision that they believe threatens to weaken the company’s core revenue producer, print, still further.

“The jury is still out on the company’s overarching digital strategy ever producing the money it needs to.

“Our members want the company to succeed but they want to be treated fairly and decently and if they are staying with the business, they want to have good conditions where they are not being put under undue pressure to deliver unreasonable expectations.”

Martin Shipton, Reach NUJ group chapel FoC, added: “During the collective consultation, NUJ reps will be seeking to minimise job losses, arguing that there should be no compulsory redundancies and insisting that quality journalism is the key to the group’s future bring a success.

“The ‘one trick pony’ business model based on increasing the number of digital page views has not fulfilled its promise and the group should be investing in its newspapers, which continue to provide the bulk of its revenue.”

The NUJ has previously estimated 22 editorial staff will lose their jobs in Bristol and Somerset, along with 15 in Cardiff and Swansea.

It has also claimed 20 journalists have been put at risk of redundancy in North Wales, along with 10 in Burton.

Five editors have so far left the business since the restructure was announced – the Bristol Post’s Mike Norton, Liverpool Echo’s Alastair Machray, Leicester Mercury’s George Oliver Martin Tideswell, of Stoke daily The Sentinel, and the Daily Post’s Andrew Campbell.

Reach has declined to comment on the NUJ’s statement.