Union official suspended

AS recipients of the allmediascotland.com e-newsletter were informed on Friday afternoon, the National Union of Journalists’ deputy ‘father of chapel’ (FoC) at the Evening Times newspaper has been suspended.

It happened at Friday lunchtime, when Gordon Thomson, a reporter at the paper, returned from a meeting with fellow union officials.

He was summoned to a meeting with the paper’s editor, prompting a request by Thomson that he be accompanied by a witness – at which point he was told he was suspended.

This is the latest incident in an increasingly fractious stand-off between the NUJ and the Herald group of newspapers, following proposed compulsory redundancy at the Evening Times. Already, there have been two walk-outs by staff across the group. Another, specifically at the Evening Times, is scheduled for Friday. Staff are also working to rule.

Said an eye-witness: “Gordon was asked to go and see [editor] Donald Martin by our associate editor, Graeme Smith. When he discovered that Graeme wanted to sit in on the meeting, Gordon said he was not prepared for the meeting to go ahead unless he had a witness present. Donald ordered them both out of the room and said he had to make a phone call.

“Within minutes, [Donald] came out of his office and told Gordon, in front of the entire floor, that he was suspended – pending disciplinary action – for not carrying out a reasonable request.

“Gordon refused to leave his desk until he had it in writing. Donald then returned to his office and sent an one line email notifying him of his immediate suspension.

“As John McCann, our FoC, walked Gordon off the floor, Donald followed them, saying to John that, if he was to leave the floor, it would be viewed as an unauthorised absence and he would be suspended as well.”

The NUJ is saying that if the suspension is not lifted today, it will ask its lawyers to look into mounting legal action.

The Evening Times is owned by Newsquest, which publishes newspapers throughout the UK. On Saturday, the NUJ hosted a meeting in Glasgow, where a dozen FoCs at Newsquest titles, UK-wide, including in Yorkshire and Essex, discussed how they might support the industrial action at the Herald group.

Meanwhile, today, Paul Holleran, the NUJ Scottish Organiser, is meeting “leading Labour councillors” on Glasgow City Council to brief them on how they might lend their support.