A dozen editorial posts are at risk of redundancy at the Scottish HQ of Express Newspapers.
While the figure is being described by the company as a maximum number, the equivalent of six long-term regular casual shifts have also been earmarked for redundancy, as part of a savings exercise reported at around £5million across Express Newspapers, UK-wide.
In London, the proposed cut is 27 staff positions and the equivalent in shifts of 18 long-term regular casual ones. And in Broughton, Lancashire, two staff positions and the equivalent in shifts of six long-term regular casuals ones are also at risk.
Applications for voluntary redundancy are being sought. The proposed cut in Scotland represents around 30 per cent of the workforce.
In a memo to staff, group managing editor, Ian Parrott, writes: “As you may be aware, editorial management have met with NUJ representatives today and have outlined savings proposals in the light of current conditions in our newspaper market and in the industry.
“While we maintain an open mind about where costs can be saved, it is hard to see how this can be done without making some positions redundant. Proposals have been put to the NUJ accordingly, and we are now in a 30-day consultation process. Discussions cover all editorial areas at the three sites, London, Glasgow and Broughton.”
He continues: “The company will, in due course, be inviting volunteers and a letter to all staff whose positions may be at risk will be sent out during the consultation period. If positions are made redundant we will explore options of re-deploying staff internally if they wish or funding re-training. We will seek to make savings beyond that on costs of bought-in material, and where practicable will always favour such savings in preference to compulsory redundancy.”
Said Paul Holleran, the Scottish Organiser of the NUJ: “It's brutal. The damage it is going to do to the papers, as well as to the remaining workforce, is seriously worrying. We will be doing our best to persuade them to lower their targets.”
Holleran expects to be meeting the Express Newspapers' NUJ chapel in Scotland on Monday, including to ascertain how many, if any, applications there might be for voluntary redundancy.
The Guardian this evening reports that all four Express titles – the Daily Express, the Daily Star, and their Sunday sisters – have been “safeguarded”, suggesting some vigorous behind-the-scenes negotiations to at least keep the papers and their offices going.
The fear this morning was that the Sunday edition of the Daily Star might not survive the planned savings, despite enjoying a substantial hike in sales since the demise, in July, of the News of the World. But the News of the World's publisher, News International, a month ago returned to the Sunday tabloid newspaper market with the launch of The Sun on Sunday.