Industrial Action Step Closer at Herald Group

The possibility of a strike at the Herald group of newspapers is one step closer, with the National Union of Journalists sending notification today that it intends to ballot for industrial action.

It follows the sacking of five members of staff at the Evening Times, despite the NUJ long ago making it clear such action would result in a ballot being called.

The sackings are part of a proposed budget cut of up to three million pounds at the group. Already a number of voluntary redundancy packages have been agreed. It’s understood the five sacked was meant to have been six until one person decided to take voluntary redundancy.

NUJ Scottish Organiser, Paul Holleran, says that, during his 15 years in the post, he has never encountered an industrial situation as “serious”.

He told allmediascotland.com: “It is the most serious situation I’ve ever faced. The future of the titles is at stake. There are job cuts and concerns about the impact on editorial quality. The morale is desperately low, people are falling ill, people are desperate to leave.”

He added: “I can’t understand why the company is looking for a fight. There’s a new editorial production system being implemented [expected around September] and we made the very common sense suggestion that we’d see how the new system would impact on re-deployment and re-training and then discuss posts at risk. I was at a meeting where everyone, including the managing director, Tim Blott, agreed that should be the way forward and there should be no compulsory redundancies in the meantime, just invitations to people to apply for voluntary packages. And now that agreement is being reneged on.”

In a week’s time, ballot paper will be going to NUJ members at the titles seeking votes on strike action and also industrial action just short of striking, eg working to rule.

Said Holleran: “We are going to recommend ‘yes’ to both questions.”

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