US Guardian staff returning to Britain in battle over job terms

By Christopher Williams

It is understood that senior British journalists in the Guardian's offices in the US will opt to return to the UK operation rather than accept new employment terms. Photo / Getty
It is understood that senior British journalists in the Guardian's offices in the US will opt to return to the UK operation rather than accept new employment terms. Photo / Getty

The Guardian's deep cost-cutting drive is causing further upheaval in its US operation, where senior British staff are being asked to accept worse employment terms to keep their jobs.

The newspaper is seeking to impose American-style contracts on the journalists it dispatched across the Atlantic under a rapid expansion launched before it was hit by a sharp downturn in print and digital advertising.

It is understood that senior British journalists in the Guardian's offices in New York and San Francisco will opt to return to the UK operation rather than accept the new contracts, which offer weaker rights on notice periods and sick pay.

Other ex-pat staff have accepted voluntary redundancy as part of a plan to cut nearly a third of US jobs, announced earlier this month. Some may accept the downgraded employment terms and discussions are ongoing, a company source said.

The Guardian has been seeking to move its British staff onto US contracts for months, another source said, but matters have been brought to a head by the urgent need for the newspaper to retreat to cut costs.

It is understood that the moves have caused disquiet at the left-leaning title, not least because of its campaigning over employment terms at companies such as Sports Direct. The Guardian's West Coast operation has highlighted the lack of employment rights for cooks and cleaners at American tech giants.

The Guardian made a pre-tax loss last year of £173m and reported operating losses of £69m, as costs ballooned on international expansion. Despite the empire building, digital revenues went into decline under pressure from the dominance of Google and Facebook. Meanwhile the print business, which still accounts for the majority of turnover, shrank by 5pc.

Katharine Viner, the editor of The Guardian, and David Pemsel, chief executive of its publisher Guardian Media Group, are swinging the axe across the business in an attempt to break even within three years.

A review of property costs is now understood to be focused on reducing the floor space at The Guardian's offices near King's Cross, rather than the wholesale move it had considered.

A spokesman declined to comment.

- Daily Telegraph UK

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 09 Dec 2016 22:45:24 Processing Time: 394ms