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NUJ ‘dismayed’ at National World redundancy process

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The National Union of Journalists has expressed “dismay” at National World’s treatment of staff during its current redundancy process.

Earlier this month, the publisher of titles including the Yorkshire Evening Post and Blackpool Gazette announced it would place tens of jobs at risk of redundancy. 

The NUJ estimates an increase to 34 journalists’ roles being cut compared to National World’s original estimate of 25, with a total of 54 people at risk, compared to 46.

The NUJ reports that journalists at the company have condemned the poor handling of processes, with staff reporting varying consultation deadlines shared by management and some consultation meetings lasting only 15 – 20 minutes, providing inadequate time to understand critical information.

The union has expressed concern about the emotional toll the poorly managed process is having on members, with journalists citing worsening mental health and no risk assessments or equality impact assessments shared on the proposals to date.

The NUJ added that it has emerged that there is no minimum payment being proposed for journalists made redundant with less than two years’ service.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: “Members have been blindsided by their treatment throughout this difficult time. Through the consultation the union has asked National World for detail on the level of savings the business is hoping to make alongside information about site revenues to help inform negotiations. Despite this, the company has failed to share necessary information, with members left distressed as they face redundancy with little clarity about the strategic direction of the business.

“Dedicated journalists deserve fair treatment but without a willingness to meaningfully engage with the union on the process and ways to mitigate redundancies, National World is sending a message to staff that it does not value the very people who have invested their talent and skill into the company.”

A group chapel representative added: “National World’s policy not to provide a minimum redundancy payment for those with less than two years’ service is typical of the lack of concern that it now shows for its staff. To place anyone at risk of redundancy in the midst of a cost of living crisis and potentially offer nothing more than four weeks’ notice – while simultaneously preparing to pay out £1.3m to shareholders – is utterly shameful.

“It is just one of the many issues arising from what has been a chaotic consultation process that has caused unnecessary distress to those put at risk. Members have felt rushed to make important decisions due to arbitrary deadlines imposed by the company, in some cases without having all the details they need to make any kind of informed choice.

“Management would be wise to remember that the rest of the staff – and potential future employees – are watching closely and will be taking note of whether this is an employer who they can trust to treat them fairly and decently. The company must engage in good faith with the NUJ to reverse poor practices and ensure all staff are treated with respect.”

The NUJ is urging the publisher to rethink its approach and ensure information relayed to staff is accurate, consistent and accessible. The union is seeking engagement to ensure there are no compulsory redundancies and criteria used is fair with necessary consultation.

National World told Prolific North: “National World is consulting with individuals directly impacted by restructure proposals and we recognise that such processes are difficult for all involved. We are fully aware of the legal requirements in this regard and are fulfilling those obligations.”

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