Stop the job cuts at Newsquest Cheshire and Merseyside
Newsquest - the British subsidiary of leading US media firm Gannett, the owner of USA Today - wants to cut seven journalist posts from papers in its Cheshire and Merseyside group, affecting offices in Warrington, Northwich, Sale, Birkenhead, Leigh and St Helens. These losses will come from a base of 25 non-managerial news staff, representing almost one third of the editorial team. The NUJ believes that this figure is far too high and completely unjustified. This is the latest in a long line of redundancies, office closures and restructuring Newsquest has imposed over the last three years that have severely undermined the company’s editorial output. Newsquest has used the recession as an excuse to embark upon a campaign of asset stripping, maintaining a steady profit by drastically cutting its costs. Staff left behind are working hard to put out good quality newspapers, but the task is being made virtually impossible by this chronic lack of investment. We believe that this business strategy is not only putting the future of our local papers at risk, but could also have a serious impact on the communities they serve. Over the last three years, driven by savage cuts to staffing levels, the Cheshire and Merseyside arm of Newsquest has continued to make money, recording a £6.7 million operating profit last year. During this period, staff have been forced to accept a pay freeze and have been urged to take un-paid leave. They suffered this while working longer hours and still Newsquest is looking to make yet more cuts as it bids to bolster its profits. The company plans to reduce staffing levels by three reporters, three sub-editors and a photographer. If these cuts go ahead, we believe that the Warrington Guardian, Northwich Guardian, Knutsford Guardian, Sale and Altrincham Messenger, Stretford and Urmston Messenger, Wirral Globe, Runcorn and Widnes World, Leigh Journal and St Helens Star will no longer be able to function. A vital layer of local democracy is being put under threat at a time when local councils are being forced to make savage cuts to their own budgets. Without a viable local press, who will hold our local government to account? The cuts also threaten to undermine our local economy. At a time when small businesses need all the help and support they can get, Newsquest is siphoning money away from the area and the UK and into the pockets of its American shareholders. We don't think that this is right. Please support your local newspaper by signing our online petition.