Newsquest’s Glasgow journalists ballot for strike action

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Credit: Creative Commons

Joanne Krus
Deputy News Editor

Journalists working for Newsquest’s Glasgow newspapers ballot for industrial action following the company’s announcement that it will have to make redundancies.

Journalists working for Newsquest, a newspaper company which owns over 200 UK publications, are balloting for industrial action.

The ballot opened on 27 November and close on 9 December.

The National Union of Journalists announced that staff from The Herald, The Herald on Sunday, the Evening Times, The National and the Sunday National will be balloted.

Newsquest, the company that owns the five sister newspapers, announced that unless some journalists quit voluntarily, it will be forced to make redundancies. The company claims that it needs to make cuts of £500,000 one way or another.

They also announced that they will be changing the organising structure of the newspapers which has raised concern among union members.

The strength of journalism industry has been on the decline over the last decade, with local papers especially feeling the effects. Union members are worried that these changes will only further the decline in their work, mental health and lives.

The NUJ has also conducted a “stress survey” of Newsquest staff which revealed that 83% of employees who responded feel like the “quality of their title has declined over the last year.”

Over three quarters of the respondents reported that their workload had increased in the past year and more than half said that they feel “pressured to produce work faster than they are comfortable with.”

Only 9% of respondents said that they felt confident in the current management.

In their statement, the NUJ said that in recent years, journalists have been faced with dramatic staff cuts and little to no increase in the wages.

They added in their statement that “staff are already stretched and stressed after years of cost-cutting and simply will not tolerate it any longer.”

John Toner, NUJ national organiser for Scotland, said: “Our members are very committed to providing Scotland with quality journalism, and our survey demonstrates that commitment, despite the severe reduction in staffing levels over many years.

“This latest blow has galvanised them, and they don’t believe it is possible to work harder than they do already, with fewer people than they already have.

“To add insult to injury, it was reported that Newsquest has made a substantial bid for JPI Media’s portfolio of regional newspapers, while at the same time making cuts of up to £500k. This news was met with incredulity by the beleaguered staff.

“These papers and brands have been mainstays of Scottish journalism for more than a century, and staff are no longer willing to tolerate these constant and destructive cuts.”

Toner said NUJ remains willing to talk to Newsquest management.

Newsquest has faced multiple industrial actions from various local papers over the last decade, with the most recent action taking place in Cumbria late 2018 over pay settlement.

Newsquest has yet to release a statement.