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Journalism union hits back after daily editor’s bid to stop strike

John Toner NUJUnion chiefs have hit back at an editor’s claim they have “not offered an alternative” to strike action at his newspaper.

The National Union of Journalists has responded to claims made by Neil McIntosh, editor of The Scotsman, in a direct plea urging his staff not to go ahead with a ballot on strike action.

Eighteen roles are understood to be at risk at the Edinburgh-based daily and its National World sister titles in Scotland, prompting the union to make the move in opposition to compulsory redundancies.

Neil told Scotsman journalists on Wednesday the ballot risked “harming” the title, claiming NUJ officials had done “little to articulate their concerns” and had “not offered an alternative way forward”.

In a bid to deter his staff from proceeding with the action, he moved to reassure them he was “working hard” on mitigating the requirement for compulsory redundancies and said he was also willing to consider voluntary redundancy requests from those not under consultation about their roles.

NUJ national organiser for Scotland John Toner has now responded to Neil’s claims in a letter to his members.

In the letter, which has been seen by HTFP, he said he made “no criticism of [Neil] for carrying out his role”.

John wrote: “There are, however, some points he raises which cannot be left unaddressed.

“Firstly, we at the NUJ know that these are difficult times for you and these are difficult decisions we are asking our members to make.

“We are holding a ballot because we believe it is the best way to protect your jobs, your livelihoods, and to send a message to management that constant job cuts are not the way to produce quality journalism and protect the Scottish titles.

“From the outset the NUJ has argued that the company should be advertising for voluntary redundancies, from those who want to leave, not compulsory redundancies for those who do not.

“This is the alternative way forward we have proposed. To say we have not come up with alternatives is simply untrue.

“When the redundancies were announced, NUJ officials met with management at company level and I asked two questions: Would they increase the redundancy terms, and would they allow applications for voluntary redundancy from across their entire editorial staff?

“Doing so might have made compulsory redundancies unnecessary. But the answer to both questions was – no.”

John, pictured, when on to state in his letter that the ballot paper was “clear on the reason for the ballot: to avoid compulsory redundancies and issues arising from redundancies”.

He added: “This wording complies with the law and is unambiguous. The NUJ wants to avoid compulsory redundancies. This should not be a difficult concept to grasp.

“What is difficult to understand, however, is the idea that the NUJ, in seeking to protect the jobs of its members, is harming the business.

“As you are all well aware, various owners have inflicted successive rounds of savage jobs cuts over a period of more than 10 years.

“The NUJ has consistently argued against cuts, and sought to protect the quality journalism the titles are known for, and what the readers want. I leave it to you to consider who has harmed the business over that time.

“You should have your ballot papers. We urge you to vote yes to both questions to send a clear message to management that not just this round of cuts is unacceptable, but also any future rounds they may have planned.”