Millionaire Lebedev cuts Evening Standard staff’s hours and pay in half

The paper has trebled pre-tax profits to £3.4 million


Picture the scene. One of Evgeny Lebedev’s underlings calls a staff meeting at the Evening Standard.

“Well comrades, there’s good news, and there’s bad news. The good news is, all your hard work has trebled pre-tax-profits to £3.4 million, and online readership is up by 24 per cent against last year. The bad news is, we’re cutting your hours and pay.”

This meeting didn’t happen. But if it did, I think the two-bearded Russian climber should have broken the news. Assuming he wasn’t holiday, as he was when he closed the Independent.

Yet the socialite Putin cheerleader is presiding over a profitable newspaper being scaled down to one print edition per day, cutting sub-editors’ work and pay in half and reporters down to a four-day week.

Photo: Lebedev and pal Boris slumming it

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said more than 30 members of staff could be affected, with all reporters and full-time sports editors being sent letters ‘offering’ the loss of a day’s work and pay.

Sub-editors are faced with less than six hours of work per day – saving the millionaire Lebedev having to provide them a lunch break. Most page editors and sub-editors will be working the socialable hours of 7.30 to 11.30.

But don’t worry. As the letter from managing editor Doug Wills cooed:

“We are confident that this decision will not detrimentally affect the editorial excellence that Evening Standard readers expect.”


Thankfully, NUJ national organiser Laura Davison is having none of it:

“This is a huge blow to the loyal staff on the Standard who must take credit for this profitable newspaper’s recent success. It will also have a huge impact on the coverage of news for its readers.

The management must be living in cloud cuckooland to say that editorial excellence will not be affected.

They have made a mockery of any meaningful consultation. The one-edition only newspaper is already on the streets as staff wait to hear their fate.”

She adds:

The editor Sarah Sands may have a new safe berth at Radio 4’s Today programme, but how are her staff expected to survive on half their pay?

It is a travesty that one of the greatest capitals of the world cannot enjoy a rich, vibrant and varied press.”

The NUJ is calling on worried Standard staff to get in touch via [email protected], and will be taking the matter up at the London Assembly economics committee’s inquiry into local news provision next month.

In the meantime, it looks as if two-beards Lebedev is working hard on destroying his second British newspaper in the space of year. His hero in the Kremlin would be proud!

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: NUJ hails first pay rise for Daily Express reporters in eight years

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.