Union seeks urgent meeting with INM on ‘devastating’ redundancy plan

News publisher’s move has triggered ‘grave concerns’, says NUJ

Redundancy plan: INM titles on display at a company agm in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Redundancy plan: INM titles on display at a company agm in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

The National Union of Journalists is seeking an urgent meeting with the management of Independent News & Media (INM) to convey “growing anger” of its members following plans for 31 redundancies at the company.

The NUJ’s Irish secretary Séamus Dooley has written to INM transformation director Richard Morgan outlining concerns that compulsory redundancies might be imposed “under the guise of a voluntary process”.

The union is “extremely concerned” that some of its members were this week called to individual meetings by INM management.

“The concept of targeting individuals is in clear conflict with the concept of a voluntary process and exposes the company to legal action arising from unlawful dismissal,” Mr Dooley wrote.

The NUJ has requested an extension of the deadline for applications for redundancies “in the absence of meaningful consultation and negotiation”.

NUJ members employed by the company held a meeting on Wednesday.

“The attendance was among the largest at a meeting of the chapel in recent years and reflected growing anger at the imposition of job losses under the guise of a voluntary process,” Mr Dooley told Mr Morgan.

“The chapel is convinced that the proposals are not in the interest of the company, shareholders or the employees and are fundamentally flawed,” he added.

The proposed redundancies – some 23 of which are understood to relate to editorial positions – will have “a devastating impact on the ability of INM to undertake its core business”, Mr Dooley wrote.

Health audit

The NUJ is also requesting a health and safety audit of the proposed reorganisation of the company.

It said existing staffing levels were “inadequate” and that its members had “grave concerns” about the health and safety implications of increased workloads at a time when journalists were already working excessive hours.

It also pointed to a two-tier system in which journalists hired to work on digital platforms also contribute to print titles, but on lower rates of pay than their colleagues.

INM, which counts businessman Denis O’Brien as its single largest shareholder, publishes the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, the Herald, Sunday World and Belfast Telegraph titles, among others. It also has a 50 per cent holding in the Irish Daily Star.

Figures contained in its annual reports show that between 2014 and 2017 it recorded restructuring costs of more than €9 million as a result of several redundancy schemes, while it also incurred a restructuring charge of €1.3 million in the first half of 2018.