Thursday 11 August 2011

Outspoken Johnston Press editor made redundant

Jim Oldfield, the editor of the South Yorkshire Times who is supporting an indefinite NUJ strike at Johnston Press-owned South Yorkshire Newspapers over job cuts, has been made redundant.

Oldfield was told of his redundancy in a letter sent to his home by courier this week. He has a right to appeal. The NUJ will consider taking his case to a tribunal, alleging unfair dismissal.

Oldfield insisted on running stories in the South Yorkshire Times about the proposed job cuts before NUJ members took strike action and at an NUJ meeting in London last month he then revealed his salary and those of other members of the editorial staff.

He said his annual pay after 37 years in journalism, which has included working for the national press, was £25,500 and trainee journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers were on £14,000; page designers £15,000; senior reporters £18,000; and assistant editors £24,000.

In contrast, he said the union had discovered that the company's former md at South Yorkshire Newspapers was on £91,000.

Oldfield estimated that Johnston Press has cut more than 230 journalists' jobs in the last year. "They've nothing left to asset strip and are now picking at the bones to make a thin stew," he claimed.

He also alleged he and other NUJ members at South Yorkshire Newspapers had been targeted for redundancy because they were in the union.

Oldfield revealed he had got a story about the impending strike into the South Yorkshire Times but only after a five-and-a-half hour stand-off with Johnston Press management as the paper was due to go to print.

UPDATE: Jim Oldfield on his redundancy and campaign for a Parly investigation into regional newspaper ownership.
  • More South Yorkshire Newspapers pay figures here and how they compare to other workers.
  • Francois Nel at UCLAN in Preston has started a survey of journalists' pay after reading my post in which I reported the pay figures given by Jim Oldfield.
  • The NUJ has written to John Fry, the chief executive of Johnston Press, calling for an investigation into the methods used to break the strike at South Yorkshire Newspapers which, according to the union, have included using a 16-year-old on unpaid work experience and the student son of the SYN md.
  • Pic: Jon Slattery


Anonymous said...

Defamation alert.

Asset stripping is fraud. It is a criminal offence. Asset strippers transfer the assets of a company to another company, leaving behind the debts. The first company is then declared insolvent.

Is that what Johnston is doing?

If it isn't then the comments could be actionable.

Jon Slattery said...

Asset stripping is not illegal unless it is being done to specifically defraud the taxman or shareholders.

Anonymous said...


But I read his statement as suggesting that in the past the company had been illegally transferring assets with an intent to defraud shareholders.

Still, it's your website, and you're the one who would face a writ, not me.

Jon Slattery said...

My interpretation is that Jim Oldfield is using "asset stripping" in the sense that the assets being stripped out of the company are the staff as Johnston Press cuts its costs by making many journalists redundant.

Anonymous said...

That's a very weird interpretation.

Asset-stripping is about selling things or transferring them to make a profit. Journalists are not like soccer players.

I still think that his comments most sound like he's accusing the Johnston management of doing something illegal.