A MASS meeting of members of the National Union of Journalists is today deciding what form of industrial action to take against the Daily Record and Sunday Mail newspapers.
It follows a vote taken a fortnight ago among NUJ members at the titles and the breakdown of talks yesterday between union officials and the papers’ management at the arbitration and conciliation service, ACAS.
The ballot was prompted by concerns of under-staffing. From a 34 per cent return of ballot papers, 91 per cent said they wished industrial action, short of strike action, while 74 per cent said Yes to strike action. The union says there were mail delivery problems behind the low return of ballot papers.
In a memo to staff, the papers’ managing director, Mark Hollinshead, admitted: “Across, the business we have not replaced 20 positions.”
Says the NUJ’s Scottish Organiser, Paul Holleran: “It’s a health and safety issue. Mark Hollinshead has a duty of care as an employer. He has ignored a long-standing grievance about staffing levels.”
When asked what likelihood actual industrial action, Holleran said: “100 per cent”.
Meanwhile, Hollinshead continued: “Unfortunately, due to an unprecedented downturn in the economy, it would be reckless and negligent of us to even contemplate increasing costs when the number of editorial pages we are now producing has fallen, whilst at the same time, we have seen double digit reductions in advertising revenue.
“You will be reading the headlines as frequently as I do. We are currently encountering the most severe advertising conditions experienced in many years and we must manage our business and cost base sensibly to protect the market positions of our newspapers.
“Across the business we have not replaced 20 positions. At a time when our output is dramatically reduced we cannot afford to replace these jobs. No department is unaffected.
“There are many misconceptions and views circulating that claim our business is unaffected by the credit crunch. I need to let you know that these misconceptions are, by definition, totally false and frankly astonishing in the extreme.”