Journalists on one of Britain’s best known outdoors magazines are embroiled in an increasingly bitter dispute.
Managers at USA-owned Newsquest, which has The Great Outdoors – TGO among its publications, faced a walk-out by 200 staff at its Glasgow offices, home of TGO, after it asked for £3m-worth of cuts and imposed compulsory redundancies.
Now it has suspended a workplace representative of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) after he refused a meeting with two managers unless he was accompanied by a colleague. An NUJ official says the suspension is illegal and is threatening to serve the company with an interim interdict, the Scottish equivalent of an injunction, unless Deputy Father of Chapel Gordon Thomson is allowed back to work.
grough understands Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has cancelled a planned meeting with managing director Tim Blott following the suspension of Mr Thomson.
Newsquest’s Glasgow division publishes magazines such as TGO, along with The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times. The company is owned by Virginia-based Gannett, which publishes USA Today. In Britain, Newsquest also has local newspapers in Brighton, Darlington, York, Bradford, Bolton, Blackburn, Southampton and Oxford.
Earlier this week, Gannett upped it shareholder dividend by 29 per cent. Last year, it posted profits of $1.16bn.
NUJ members on all the Glasgow-based titles are working to rule and plan another strike later this week. They are also in talks with print union officials at the Cambuslang plant, south of Glasgow, who are unhappy with conditions.
Tim Blott said: “The National Union of Journalists is using its considerable media and political muscle to try to intimidate us but it will not work. We will continue to publish our newspapers as normal.”
Commentators say the titles published during the strike were small and thin in content.
NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said after the first strike: “There was a great turnout.
“Hopefully the company will see there is massive support and review its position.”
Newsquest recently told its 8,000-plus employees in the UK they would have to make a 66 per cent increase in pension contributions or face a cut in payments when they retire. Workplace NUJ representatives from throughout the company met in Glasgow at the weekend to discuss a response to the company’s actions.