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'Toxic tactic' targets 21 Reuters staff in London - Guild

Some 21 Reuters editorial staff in London have been targeted by performance improvement plans and half a dozen have already left the company with more expected to follow, according to the Newspaper Guild of New York.

The National Union of Journalists, which represents some editorial staff in London, has made no public comment on the issue.

In its latest assessment of what it called “morale-killing tactics” around the globe, the Guild  said: “Thomson Reuters Editorial management’s toxic tactic of targeting some of its best and brightest veterans can be found around the globe. And just like the cases involving Guild members, PIPs and other pressure tactics have been effective outside of the United States in divesting the company of the kind of valuable, experienced talent this news organization needs now more than ever.”

In the United States, the union said 32 of its members have been targeted by PIPs and 17 have been forced out by the process, some picking their time to leave and others sticking it out to the bitter end and being fired. The scorecard as of 23 October looks like this:

  • PIPs issued in 2012: 32
  • PIP - left voluntarily: 9
  • PIP - terminated: 8
  • PIP - final warning: 1
  • PIP - written warning: 2
  • PIP - verbal warning: 2
  • PIP - lifted: 10.

The Guild said it was arbitrating all cases except those who voluntarily left the company and was expecting a ruling on the first of these cases in late November or December.

“These PIP-targeted employees are older and longer-serving than Guild-covered employees who haven’t been targeted. Their median service time with Reuters is 21 years, nearly twice the 11.5-year median of other Guild-represented employees, and their median age is 56, versus 46 for everyone else,” the Guild said.

“We’ve heard from Reuters journalists in Denmark, the Netherlands and Pakistan about the same kind of reckless targeting of staff that has become all too common in the United States.”

The Guild added: “When will TR top editors stop using PIPs and other unproductive, morale-killing tactics to cut staff? The only thing we know is that in Editor-in-chief Steve Adler’s communication on October 18, he confirmed that 2013 is going to be another tight year for those of us who produce it, despite the company’s stated commitment to news.” ■

The Newspaper Guild of New York