Strike ballot could hit Guardian’s huge printworks

STAFF at East London’s huge Guardian newspaper printworks are balloting for industrial action which could shut the plant. It follows the company announcing it is to sack up to a third of the workforce, which unions warned tonight could halt printing of the Guardian and Sunday Observer

By Mike Brooke

STAFF at East London’s huge Guardian newspaper printworks are balloting for industrial action which could shut the plant.

It follows the Guardian News & Media group announcing it is to sack up to a third of the workforce.

Unions warned tonight that this could halt the printing of the daily Guardian and Sunday Observer newspapers in the South.

The company maintains it is “still in consultation with staff” and is suggesting reducing the workforce can be done by voluntary’ redundancy.


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DEADLINE

But no workers have come forward so far, with less than a week before the deadline for accepting voluntary redundancies, according to Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union.

The union’s local branch at Stratford has now issued a stern warning in a statement: “We are still in negotiations and mean to carry them on in good faith, but are pursuing industrial action as a real option.

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“No staff have yet come forward for voluntary redundancy—we are being spoon-fed information in the face of a short deadline.”

COMPULSORY

Union officials say it is “difficult to make an informed decision” under that kind of pressure and accuse the company of making compulsory redundancies “look inevitable” after turning down requests to extend the deadline.

The huge printworks at Rick Roberts Way, Stratford, was purpose-built four years ago and equipped with hi-tech presses for the Guardian and Observer to switch from broadsheet to a more compact semi-tabloid format, unique to the newspapers in Britain.

It has, as a result, staved off the worst excesses of falling circulation experienced by the newspaper industry.

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