Richard Desmond is heading for a clash with unions at his Express newspaper titles over plans to move up to 100 jobs from London to Lancashire. Staff on the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star called the proposal an "attack" on journalism and warned they would not co-operate with the move. Mr Desmond has already been criticised for cutting jobs since taking over the titles two years ago and is thought to be producing those papers as well as the new Daily Star Sunday with no more than 250 journalists.
The plans involve moving about 50 staff sub-editing jobs and 40 casual employees to Broughton, the Lancashire plant where he already produces the Daily Star Sunday. But staff fear more than 200 jobs could be moved to Lancashire, and called an emergency meeting with National Union of Journalist officials yesterday.
Union members at the Express titles unanimously passed a resolution saying they would refuse to transfer to Broughton and would not send editorial to the plant. It said the union "takes the management's proposals as an attack on everyone working for the papers. We will not co-operate with this proposal and will send no copy to Broughton".
An NUJ spokesman would not rule out industrial action and said: "We've decided to rename the company Northern, rather than Northern & Shell."
The NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, said Express Newspapers had told the union it needed to save £1m and were considering making casuals in London redundant. "We believe some people will be offered jobs up there but [Express Newspapers] doesn't think anyone will take up the offer," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Express said staff were being consulted about moving work to Broughton, but said it would affect 40 to 50 of them. She described talk of 200 jobs as "rubbish" but accepted that more than 50 might be moved.
Mr Desmond, whose company also produces pornographic magazines, has been bitterly criticised for his treatment of the Express titles, although sales of the Daily Star have risen fast. It was up by 18 per cent to 754,000 in August and the Daily Star Sunday sold 800,000, above its targets.
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