Munster Express managers reject job-saving plan

ONE of the country’s oldest newspapers faces “the proposed culling of half the total 24 jobs” after trade union Unite yesterday said its proposals “have been rejected by management”.

Declining advertising revenue and circulation at The Munster Express, one of the largest-selling regional papers in the south-east, are understood to have led to 12 redundancies being sought in August.

The publication is the only regional newspaper that prints its editions in-house, but it is understood that several areas of production, including printing, are likely to be outsourced.

The union yesterday said it will now make representations to the Labour Relations Commission to “try and lessen the blow of the proposed culling of half the total 24 jobs at the Waterford-based paper”.

“We were asked to put forward alternative plans, which would maintain as many jobs as possible,” said Brendan Byrne, regional officer with Unite, yesterday.

“But it appears this was only window-dressing and that the management never had any intention of considering plans from the workforce.

“It appears the only intention was to kill off the printing and production side of the paper in its home town.

“When the details of these savage cuts to a once-proud title were revealed, it was a shocking blow to people who have put their lives into the newspaper.

“Unite members were faced with similar cuts at the Connaught Telegraph and Mayo Star earlier this year and we were able to save some jobs because of a willingness on the part of management to see how important local employment is to their readership.

“That recognition has not been made in Waterford, but none of the proposed outsourcing to other areas of the country can take place unless agreement is reached with the whole workforce over the treatment of those whose jobs are on the line.”

One worker at the newspaper, who did not wish to be named, yesterday said: “These have been an incredibly difficult few weeks for everyone in The Munster Express.

“The dignity and professionalism of the staff who are set to lose their jobs has been quite remarkable.

“This says something about not only the quality of the staff’s character, but of their clear and undoubted affection for a great local product which they have invested so much of themselves in — in some cases for almost 40 years.”

The Munster Express celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, and released a book edited by Kieran Walsh, the paper’s editor, called Waterford Memories — 150 years with the Munster Express.

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