With huge cost pressures on newspaper production and falling advertising revenues across the industry, American owned Newsquest group – owners of the daily Swindon Advertiser – has announced it is cutting back on pre-press jobs and outsourcing them to a graphic design studio in India.
After a consultation period with staff, management have told workers that 12 jobs in Swindon and 15 jobs at the Brighton Argus will be lost. A number of staff at the Oxford Mail & Times group will also lose their jobs.
It is understood that the work is to be contracted to another American company that specialises in fast turnaround pre-press work, Express KCS – an American firm with sites in India. Staff in Swindon have been told that it will be done by a company called 2AdPro in India.
Quoted at www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk, Steve Sibbald, national officer for newspapers from Unite, the union representing the staff, said, "the company is pressing ahead with the move to India and our members are now working their notice.
"Many of them are entitled to 12 weeks because of their length of service. They were probably resigned to it before they got the decision. They were not expecting the work to go where it did but unfortunately working in the press is very precarious.
"When contracts are up for grabs you expect it to go to the company down the road not to a company 5,000 miles away."
He added said that there were jobs still expected to be available at the sites involving some element of pre-press work but anyone wishing to stay on would have to reapply for the positions.
Newsquest, owned by American firm Gannett, operates newspapers across the USA and throughout the UK which includes 17 dailies and around 300 weekly titles.
A member of the Swindon Advertiser pre-press department, unwilling to be named, said, "this is a very sad time for us all. Many of us have worked together for this local newspaper for 20 years, as an efficient, skilled team with a wealth of experience.
"Suddenly we are an expensive luxury to be replaced by a cheap faceless production line in India with no local knowledge or affinity."
The Swindon Advertiser used to be printed in the town but its owners did not make invest in new equipment and it has been printed in Oxford for about ten years and transported to Swindon in a fleet of shuttle vans.
In 2005 the Advertiser announced it was looking at the valuation of its building on Victoria Road. With a reduction of staffing, it is possible that it will relocate elsewhere to allow redevelopment of the historic site in Old Town.