Staff axe swings at Newsquest London (again)
The cuts go on at Newsquest London.
It has sent the following to its employees:
Due to the worsening trading conditions the company will now accept requests for voluntary redundancy. These requests must be made in writing and be sent to the HR department by Monday February 28 at 5pm. All requests will then be reviewed. Final decisions will be at the management’s discretion.
That’s an incredibly short time for staff to volunteer to step up on to the scaffold: company boss Roger Mills only made the announcement on Thursday.
NQ London publishes a range of titles in south-west London, including the paid-for titles Surrey Comet and Richmond & Twickenham Times, the freebie Guardian series and their related websites. The News Shopper series of free weeklies, based in Petts Wood, south-east London, also comes under the all-seeing aegis of group editor Andy Parkes.
Recently, the south-west branch of operations, formerly based in the less-than-salubrious surrounds of beautiful, downtown North Cheam, has been split, with the Surrey Comet and related Kingston and Elmbridge Guardians team moving in with the Richmond & Twickenham Times at its Twickenham base and the rest of the operations nestling down with Reed Business Information in The Quadrant, Sutton – neatly completing circle begun in 1995, when a management buy-out team formed Newsquest and bought Reed Regional Newspapers from Reed Elsevier.
Oddly, though, the news, sports and leisure subs team have been left alone in Newsquest London’s half of Unecol House, North Cheam, even though everyone else – newsdesks, advertising, planners and production – has up and moved elsewhere, and even though the inevitable technical teething problems means the subs have to use their own mobile phones and, on at least one occasion, lack of an IT connection means news editors have had to drive over from Sutton to view their own pages.
After a swathe of redundancies in 2009, last year saw the axing of some south-west London titles (the Hounslow & Brentford Times, the Chiswick) and cuts in pagination and distribution in others, as well as the closure of the national NQ final salary pension scheme. There have been further savage cuts in editorial pagination recently.
The Press Gazette has more on the latest redundancies here.
UPDATE Feb 26: FSB has the NUJ response here.
FURTHER UPDATE: Although the number of redundancies NQ London is after hasn’t been revealed, a source tells me staff are being told the cuts will be based on a “skills matrix” rather than “last in, first out”. Which has left staff with a worrying weekend wondering where exactly they fit in the “skills matrix” before deciding on Monday whether to take the blue pill or the red pill…