AT A packed chapel (union branch) meeting last Friday, Express and Star NUJ union members unanimously called for a strike ballot. This is part of our fight to prevent our boss Richard Desmond sending up to 100 of our jobs to Broughton, Lancashire. We believe this is an attempt at a Wapping-style operation aimed at shifting production to Lancashire.
The new Sunday Star is already produced in Broughton, where subeditors earn £80 a day - the rates in London are nearer £130. Management also complained in an e-mail to all staff that their casual shift bill in London has doubled in the past year from £30,000 to £60,000. We reminded them that if you make 145 staff members redundant and replace them with casuals this is the likely outcome.
Our union chapel is determined not to allow the workforce to be divided into staff and casuals as management would like. We made it clear at the chapel meeting that we will fight this together. Three representatives from the chapel are visiting Broughton this week to recruit people to the union, with a view to improving conditions there. They will also seek a commitment from them that if we enter into a dispute with Desmond in London, they will stop work on the Sunday Star.