Staff in firm acquired by DC Thomson hit out at handling of redundancies
The Dundee-based publisher, who has long prided itself on loyalty, caused major shock when it announced plans in February to “reshape its portfolio” to plug a £10m gap, including 300 redundancies.
Around half of the job losses were expected to come from the closure of titles at Aceville, a publisher based in Colchester which it acquired in 2018.
Staff there have raised concerns over the way the process has been handled, which they say includes being offered redundancy packages on lesser terms than their colleagues in Scotland.
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In a letter sent earlier this month to DC Thomson’s directors and shareholders, they highlighted a number of concerns about how the closures of titles and redundancies are being handled.
The staff say they were initially pleased at Aceville’s acquisition by DC Thomson as it had a reputation as a “benevolent, conscientious and ethical employer”, with values of “fairness, integrity and compassion” towards its workforce.
They also highlighted that last year executives announced a move towards using the DC Thomson identity instead of Aceville, with the statement “we are all employed by DC Thomson”.
But the employees say the announcement of the closure of all former Aceville titles has caused anger and fear among staff, with unclear communications and many now still facing uncertainty over their jobs.
One major concern raised by Aceville staff was a discrepancy around redundancy packages – saying that staff based in Scotland affected by the restructure are entitled to three times the statutory payout being offered to them. They also said the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy was closed with no notice.
A source said: “Prior to this the benevolent part of DC Thomson was amazing, great pension, Wednesday wellbeing, it was all about staff.
“When DC Thomson took us over we were really pleased – they seemed to be a company in tune with our family values.
“We thought this was a match made in heaven and it was for the first couple of years – but this is so shocking.”
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The news of the cuts at DC Thomson caused shock and surprise among both staff and in the wider industry when it was announced.
The Sunday National previously told of a huge backlash from Scottish employees of the firm who were angry at how it was being handled.
A source said of the Scottish situation: “It is a shitstorm. There has been the sense that the family are quite nice, they are quite good to work with – it is a company that has had that feeling.
“Sometimes the company might screw up but the overall ethos has been employees really quite enjoyed working there and liked the company.
“In 48 hours that has completely and utterly reversed.”
A spokesperson for DC Thomson said: “The consultation process is dictated by law and as a responsible company we have gone beyond our obligations with Aceville.
“Our focus has been and remains working to minimise the impact on jobs.”