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Journalists to strike for two days amid cuts row with publisher

John Toner NUJJournalists at a group of sister newspapers will go on strike for two days over proposed compulsory redundancies.

National World has confirmed it has received notice from the National Union of Journalists of its intention to undertake strike action at its titles in Scotland, including The Scotsman, on 26 August and 2 September.

The NUJ announced last week its members at the titles had backed the action following a ballot, which was called after an estimated 18 roles were put at risk in Scotland as part of a group-wide restructure at National World.

The publisher has now told staff that annual leave bookings will not be approved for the proposed dates, and that any member of staff who does not confirm their intention to work “will be assumed to be taking part in strike action”.

Journalists have been given a deadline of midday on Monday 22 August by which time they must confirm their intention to work with group head of HR Claire Jackson.

In a memo to affected staff, which has been seen by HTFP, National World said: “In accordance with contract law the withdrawal of labour is a breach of contract.

“In the event of strike action, those staff taking part in strike action will not be paid for the time they are not at work and deductions in respect of days not worked will be made from September salary payments.

“In addition, access to work premises will not be allowed and access to the company’s IT systems will be suspended for the duration of strike action for staff taking part in the strike.

“With immediate effect, annual leave bookings will not be approved for dates which include days on which strike action is intended.

“Clearly there may be those who do not wish to take part in such action and we are required to support those individuals to continue working on days when action is planned.”

The first day of proposed action coincides with the start of four non-consecutive days of planned strikes at rival publisher Reach plc, where more than 1,000 journalists are set to walk out amid a dispute over pay.

According to NUJ Scotland, 93pc of its members at The Scotsman titles voted in favour of strike action on a turnout of 64pc, with 90pc supporting action short of strike.

At National World’s Scottish weeklies, 67pc voted for strike and 73pc action short of strike on a turnout of 65pc.

Scotsman editor Neil McIntosh had previously issued a direct plea urging his staff not to go ahead with the ballot, warning it risked “harming” the Edinburgh-based daily.

In response, NUJ national organiser for Scotland John Toner, pictured, said the union was “seeking to protect the jobs of its members”.

Speaking this afternoon, John said: “A meeting with National World management on Monday morning, held at the union’s request, took us no closer to resolving the issues of compulsory redundancies at the Scotsman titles.

“It now seems likely that those titles will take strike action on Friday 26 August, the same day as the NUJ members at Reach are due to take action.

“This would mean The Scotsman and the Daily Record would face strike action on the same day.

“We continue to believe that a resolution is possible, and we are willing to meet the employer at any point for talks.”

HTFP has approached National World for a comment.