Telegraph scraps freelance contracts

The Daily Telegraph is to ditch its casual contracts for independent writers as part of a wider shake-up to its editorial ranks, which will end the newspaper’s use of freelance journalists.

In a decision that the NUJ said would seriously concern the paper’s freelancers, the Telegraph Media Group announced major changes to its editorial staff’s working patterns.

Under the new policy, designed to transfer all editorial employees from a nine to a 10-day working fortnight, causal contracts will go, and be replaced by 40 new editorial posts.

“Although the creation of new jobs makes good headlines,” said Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists,” the proposals to end the use of casuals will be of serious concern to freelances at the papers [the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph].”

Despite the changes being widely seen solely as way to cut costs, the TMG said the shake-up to staff’s working patterns reflected the “growing demand for editorial content across the group.”

And to encourage their journalists to accept an extra day per fortnight, which is expected to take effect after the summer, TMG management said it will offer them a one-off payout of £2,000.

As well as causing concern to freelancers, Mr Dear said the announcement has also made the group’s editorial employees “extremely anxious” about their hours and work patterns.

The union vowed to hold weekly meetings with TMG’s management to discuss the proposals in more detail, to find out exactly what they will mean for journalists.

Yesterday, The Guardian reported that 17 of the Telegraph’ support staff have been given their marching orders, fuelling fears that most of the paper’s staff, both in and outside of its editorial ranks, are vulnerable.




25th July 2008

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