Objectors to savage budget cuts being proposed at the Herald group of newspapers can now make their feelings known via an online petition.
Set up the by the National Union of Journalists, the e-petition also allows for comments to be made about a planned budget cut understood to be between two and three million pounds.
Applications for voluntary redundancy are being sought, by owners, Newsquest, with the NUJ appealing for what has been a shifting deadline, for applications, to be continued until at least next week – by which time a clearer picture is expected to emerge as to the impact on pensions of any pay-offs.
NUJ Scottish organiser, Paul Holleran, has recently held meetings with the editors of all three newspapers affected – The Herald, the Sunday Herald and the Evening Times – to discuss the production implications of having to operate with much fewer staff.
He told Spike: “They have been constructive. But the rush [for voluntary redundancies] has created something akin to ‘Wacky Races’.”
The union has also sought advice from the Department of Trade and Industry and also the Office of Fair Trading as to whether the Competition Commission hearing that permitted Newsquest parent company, Gannett, to buy the papers four years ago, could be re-convened.
The e-petition text reads:
“The signatories below call on Gannett/Newsquest to abide by the assurances they provided to the Competition Commission hearing in 2003 on the transfer of The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times and stop cutting jobs in these titles. Those assurances included their stated intention to maintain the quality and level of coverage of Scottish issues and opinions.
“For the third year in a row, profits have increased at Newsquest (Herald & Times).
“For the third year in row, management have demanded job cuts across the board.
“The Herald’s position as a national newspaper is seriously under threat.
“The Sunday Herald’s role as an award-winning quality Sunday title is at risk.
“The ability of Evening Times journalists to sustain the high profile campaigning identity of the paper is being dramatically undermined.
“The real danger to these prestigious Scottish titles comes directly from Newsquest’s demand for job cuts in each of the last three years.
“Their profitable return on investment has been over 35 per cent during this period. This is more than double the average company performance in the UK (14.8 per cent).
“Profits from the three titles more than doubled last year to almost