News (Scottish Office)

09/07/09 12:00

Daily Record & Sunday Mail agreement to end the recent dispute is in jeopardy after the company finance director blocked former staff from doing freelance work for the titles.

Staff and freelance at The Daily Record & Sunday Mail are up in arms after a senior management member broke the "end of dispute agreement" only days after it was signed by the MD and NUJ Scottish Organiser.
Mark Mountford the finance director at Central Quay first issued a form for the new freelances to fill in and sign, then refused to sanction payment or further commissiong of work from the redundant workers.
A number of NUJ members made redundant had been offered freelance work as part of the restructuring, but number-cruncher Mountford stepped in to block the successful arrangement with his bureaucratic interference but then made things worse by refusing to budge even after receiving the "freelance status forms". He apparently is worried about the possibility of future claims for staff status, despite individuals having signed compromise agreements when they left. NUJ Scottish Organiser Paul Holleran met with HR on Tuesday to try and clear the mess and further meetings were taking place on Wednesday afternoon to get things back on track.


Morale at Newsquest titles in Renfield Street goes from bad to worse after the Editor in Chief, Donald Martin seeks his own remedies for the chaotic shambles of his newsroom.

A meeting of the Newsquest ad-hoc chapel committee left NUJ organisers shocked at the apparent deterioration in the situation at The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times. The staffing shortages has led to problems on many desks:
Late shift picture desk editors are attempting to be in two places at once. On the desk and out taking pictures as there is an apparent shortage of freelances willing to work under the "new contract".
The so-called merger of staff across the titles doesn't appear to have materialised as Evening Times staff deliver copy for their paper and "community sites" and the diminished Herald news reporters are working horrendous shift patterns without sufficient breaks and days off promised by management.
The system continues to crash and stories vanish into the etherworld as managers bury their heads in the sand and announce everything is hunky dory.
Stress levels go through the roof as reporting and production staff are pressured to produce way beyond their capacity on a daily basis.
There are so few sub-editors that business copy is being outsourced to PA to free up business subs to work on news (who are also completely overstretched). Donald Martin also had the temerity to criticise subs for the number of mistakes even though their numbers have been massively depleted.
Donald Martin's remedies include setting up a "work experience" desk with around eight regulars struggling to produce copy which then has to be re-written in many cases by hard-pressed staff. He is also looking to hire three multi-media photographers to cover the absence of freelances. They will be on short-term contracts with as yet unknown (but apparently competitive) salaries.

A meeting between MD Tim Blott and NUJ Scottish Organiser Paul Holleran is due to take place on Monday afternoon. There is a good chance that some of these issues along with the Protective Award tribunal claim could be on the agenda.


BBC Scotland's "new FoC" takes redundancy and the political road only hours before taking up his new post.

Moves to set up a new chapel committee at BBC Scotland were knocked slightly off course last Friday, as only hours before taking on the role of FoC, senior broadcast journalist David Kerr told his colleagues that he was leaving that day as he had taken a redundancy package and was seeking nomination to become the SNP candidate for Glasgow North East by-election. This caused some shock to say the least but the union thanks David for the work he did in recent months for the chapel committee and wishes him well in his new career path. Ironically a number of people have been trying to persuade the current deputy FoC Pete Murray to stand as a Socialist candidate, now wouldn't that make things interesting?