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Staff at the Express ready for a jobs fight

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Issue 1740

Staff at the Express ready for a jobs fight

By an Express journalist

JOURNALISTS AND library staff at Express Newspapers have decided to give porn baron and new owner Richard Desmond a run for his money, and fight his proposed new cuts of 145 journalists and library staff.

Desmond bought Express Newspapers just before Christmas. He said he was going to “invest whatever it takes” to restore the Express to the great newspaper it once was and make it a serious challenger to its rival the Mail. Fine talk, and all lies. He immediately followed this up by sacking 60 website staff.

Desmond sold them off to a cowboy company which then declared itself bankrupt, thereby trying to avoid paying any redundancy money. Divide The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) had to fight hard to win the sacked workers their entitlement. At two union meetings held in the canteen last week 180 staff agreed that enough is enough.

We unanimously voted to oppose the redundancies by “any means necessary”, and to ask our union to organise a ballot for industrial action. The second resolution had only four votes against. Union full timer Jeremy Dear said it is a long time since there was serious industrial action within the NUJ, so there should be a good amount of money available.

Management are desperate to divide and frustrate any fightback. We are being encouraged to find out individually what we would be entitled to if we volunteer for redundancy. We are also being told we could leave the building by next week, money in hand, if we apply now.

Luckily we know that only a handful of people have taken up this divisive invitation. A good result of the strength of feeling at the chapel meeting was that most people agreed we must act collectively and not be picked off one by one. Even people who say they are tempted by the redundancy money are saying that we must stick together.

If Desmond gets away with this second round of cuts it will be, as one journalist put it, “hell for those of us left here trying to carry the extra work”. Already the Express City desk is being asked to write stories for the Star, and the Star is being told to produce a new TV listings section. Express fashion editorial staff have so far resisted attempts to make them cover fashion shows for both titles.

We received a resolution of support from the NUJ’s London magazine branch. Further messages of support would be welcome and should be sent to [email protected].

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