Papers squeezed

Herald staff among latest Newsquest job cuts

Sunday National and Herald on Sunday - first copies

Papers facing more redundancies

About a dozen staff at The Herald and The National are to be axed by owner Newsquest as the titles’ owner struggles with the Covid-19 crisis.

The National Union of Journalists said it is dismayed by the large round of job cuts and redundancies announced by the company, the second largest publisher of regional and local newspapers in the UK.

The union said those affected have been told they will be required to work their full notice of up to 12 weeks or if individuals are currently on furlough, they must take any accrued but unused holidays before they leave on 31 July.

In the case of furloughed staff being made redundant, taxpayers will foot 80% of the bill.

In Scotland the job cuts include four reporters at The Herald/Herald on Sunday, two sports staff, one job on the picture desk, one journalist from The National, one administrator and four staff on the weeklies

The Scottish Farmer magazine loses one photographer and one member of staff from the editorial team.

Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ national coordinator, said:”Our members have done a brilliant job in adapting to the difficulties brought by the coronavirus and have been very understanding of the needs of the business, an example of this has been staff absorbing a painful temporary pay cut to help our publications survive through a very challenging situation.

“Our concern is not just for those who are losing their livelihoods at this dreadful time, but also for those who are left behind. Our newsrooms are already stretched to the maximum and as professional journalists we neither want to see the quality of our work drop nor our stress levels go through the roof.

“We need reassurance that there is a strong plan in place for us to continue to serve our communities properly and safely.””We recognise that the pandemic crisis has badly impacted the economy and businesses are struggling to overcome sharp falls in their revenue streams.

“The government stepped in to provide massive support to commercial companies and to provide a financial bridge to head off mass redundancies.

“It is really disappointing that the so-called Job Retention Scheme (furlough) now appears to be fast turning into a waiting room for redundancy. So many of those roles being selected for redundancy in Newsquest are those that have been recently furloughed, particularly sport and photography.

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“What is equally disappointing, is that the hope by the company to keep the reporting capacity of newsrooms intact has not been met in all cases and local managements are looking to take out reporter roles at a time when the demand for trusted news is soaring.

“Constant cuts will not help deliver the quality news publishers will need as they seek to re-orientate their businesses to build sustainable digital subscriptions to beat the cyclical downturns in advertising.

“The NUJ will be pressing to retain as many journalists as possible so that the company retains skills and knowledge in its rebuilding battle.”

The union said the details of the cuts compiled by the NUJ appears to contradict the comments made by the chief executive, Henry Faure Walker, who said last month: “Whilst some editorial roles are likely to be affected, we believe we can maintain the vast majority of journalist jobs and sustain front line reporter resource in particular.”

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