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Weeklies to axe five journalists ahead of planned strike, union claims

Journalists at an independent publisher are to go on strike amid union claims that five colleagues are set to lose their jobs.

National Union of Journalists members at Bullivant Media are set to go ahead with the plan, for which they unanimously voted last month.

The move comes amid claims from the NUJ chapel at Bullivant that the company this week informed five of the 18 members of editorial staff they faced compulsory redundancy within days, with photographer roles being “wiped out”.

Around 15 staff across departments face losing their jobs from a workforce of more than 60, the union has claimed.

Bullivant portfolio

Titles affected include the Coventry Observer, Leamington Observer, Rugby Observer, Stratford Observer, Solihull Observer, Redditch Standard, Bromsgrove Standard, Worcester Observer and Evesham Observer.

The strike will take place later this month, although dates are yet to be confirmed.  The NUJ is further alleging that the compulsory redundancy plan targets leading union members.

In a statement, the chapel said: “The redundancy proposals appear to be a flawed attempt at strike-busting and demoralising a new NUJ chapel by targeting its more active and leading members.

“Members’ reasonable demands are to be paid what they are owed in future, and to be properly consulted on fair and transparent restructuring proposals which seek to avoid compulsory redundancies.

“Members who have driven digital audience growth with real journalism in communities, including those facing compulsory redundancy, also oppose uniquely perverse attempts to highjack editorial roles and counterproductively drive down editorial standards.

“Copied and pasted government press releases and content that ought to be marked as advertisement features now routinely masquerade as online news; website hits have correspondingly declined.”

The dispute which prompted the vote for strike action is over previous unauthorised deductions of salaries, compulsory redundancies and recently imposed working practices.

The union claims non-editorial staff from the Bullivant family have taken over some editorial functions, despite a unanimous chapel no confidence vote concerning the impact on professional journalists’ standards.

HTFP has approached Bullivant Media for a comment.