Media outlets urged to match concern about staff stress by preventing job cuts

A MEETING of members of the National Union of Journalists is to take place at The Scotsman newspaper group on Wednesday, to consider how to react to two proposed editorial redundancies.

On the back of a ‘work to rule’ at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail – that began on Friday – it has prompted the union’s Scottish Organiser to appeal to the country’s biggest media outlets to honour their concerns about working conditions, by avoiding staff cuts.

Says Paul Holleran: “We have conducted a Health and Safety Executive-based survey at The Scotsman Publications and found that urgent action is required to relieve staff stress, caused by such things as too long hours, not being able to take breaks, and not being able to get your preferred holiday dates. We conducted a similar survey at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail and found similar results.

“And what we have found at The Scotsman Publications, BBC Scotland, The Herald group and the Daily Record and Sunday Mail is management all concerned about staff stress but then pursuing job cuts.”

On Thursday, a meeting was held between union reps at The Scotsman group – which includes The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News – and the titles’ managing director, Michael Johnston.

Talks centred on a company proposal to make two editorial secretarial redundancies, one redundancy at Special Features and a feature writer redundancy at the Scotsman. It’s not yet clear whether the redundancies will be compulsory or voluntary and whether any redeployment will be offered instead.

Other cuts include a reduction of shifts at The Scotsman’s picture desk and various Scotland on Sunday magazine sections.

Today, NUJ reps across all the titles in the UK owned by the Scotsman’s publishers, Johnston Press, are taking part in a telephone conference call ahead of a proposed letter from the NUJ’s general-secretary, Jeremy Dear, to Johnston Press chief executive, Tim Bowdler, warning of industrial action, should there be any compulsory redundancies.

And these tough economic times could get even worse should the cost of newsprint go up next year, by as much as 20 per cent – as some fear.