Concerns have been raised over a proposed takeover of JPI Media newspaper and digital assets by Newsquest including The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post.
JPI Media, which was formed from Johnston Press is understood to be the subject of a takeover approach from several interested parties, with Newsquest currently leading the way. The American-owned Newsquest already has numerous local and regional newspaper properties in the UK, and is clearly looking to add to that portfolio.
The concerns from the NUJ are not without foundation, Newsquest has a terrible record of aggressively stripping out costs, including jobs, and reducing terms and conditions for transferred staff when it takes over companies.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “In all of these takeovers, our members have typically suffered heavy job losses and their pay and conditions have been affected, so we have understandable concerns about what our members might face if Newsquest is successful in acquiring JPI Media.
“There may be regulatory issues involved and we know many MPs around the country will be acutely interested in this situation after the General Election given the sheer number of critical Early Day Motions that have been put down in Parliament over the actions of Newsquest in the past.”
The NUJ pointed out that in recent years, Newsquest has taken over the Romanes Group in Scotland, NWN Media Ltd in North Wales, Isle of Wight County Press and the CN Group in Cumbria.
Stanistreet continued; “We would love to be proved wrong and for JPI Media to be taken over by a company willing to invest in its core business – news, both in print and digital.
“That is why we are calling on all interested bidders as a minimum to declare a moratorium of at least two years on compulsory jobs losses, the honouring of all existing terms and conditions and maintenance of effective collective bargaining arrangements.
“We would be willing sit down and talk to any new owner about their plans to stabilise and grow this business for the benefit of local communities who desperately need access to quality journalism like never before.”