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Newspaper jobs cut deal collapses

22 January 09 15:31 GMT

A voluntary redundancy deal between management and unions at The Herald and Evening Times Group has collapsed.

BBC Scotland understands a disagreement over three union officials, who had agreed to take voluntary redundancy, caused the deal to unravel.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said three senior members were being asked to "sign away their rights to take legal action for victimisation".

The newspaper group plans to proceed with a selection process to cut staff.

Last month the group announced it was making all its journalists and publishing staff redundant and invited them to re-apply for their jobs, with about 40 posts expected to be lost.

However, Donald Martin said the NUJ had then given management a list of more than 35 editorial staff seeking voluntary redundancy.

In an e-mail to staff, he said: "This was a union initiative and not part of our original planning but was accepted by us in good faith as a way of identifying those who did not want to be part of the new structure.

"We accepted this initiative as a package, with slight modifications, even though the mix on the list was not ideal operationally. However, further discussions with the union have now broken down.

"We will therefore be continuing to interview for suitable roles all staff including those who have applied for voluntary redundancy.

"We have already said staff whose names were submitted by the NUJ subsequent to the package list are subject to review."

Mr Martin said that while the impasse remained with the union remained it would not be go-ahead with voluntary redundancies.

A statement from the NUJ accused management at the newspaper group of behaving inconsistently.

It said: "They want the union representatives to leave next week and be paid until March. This is far short of any settlement a tribunal would give to a successful claimant.

"It is a bizarre scenario as they have been more than keen to get people out of the door as soon as possible.

"After agreeing with the union that the 37 names could go forward as voluntary redundancies, they are blocking anyone going."

The union also said it was strange that editorial staff would be asked, during interviews, if they could show commitment to working under a new structure when they had already applied for redundancy.

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