The Final Word for Edinburgh Publishers?

by Una Purdie

The Chambers Dictionary: Edinburgh publishers under threat.
Chambers Dictionary

Staff at the Edinburgh publishers of the Chambers Dictionary are facing redundancy after last minute talks failed to reach agreement.

Proposals to close the Edinburgh office of Chambers Harrap were announced last month by parent company Hachette, threatening 27 jobs in the capital. Attempts by the staff’s union, the National Union of Journalists to force a rethink will continue but time is short. Hachette stated during yesterday’s talks that they plan to issue redundancy notices next week.

If the closure proceeds, it will be another knock to the publishing industry in Scotland. It will bring to an end a historic 180 year connection between the company and the capital. Production of the profitable Chambers titles such as the dictionary would move to Hachette’s London office, with other titles such as foreign language reference books going to Paris-based Larousse.

Scottish NUJ organiser Paul Holleran, who attended the meeting, told Napier News that he believes there could be a future for the company in Scotland but Hachette are “not interested at all” in maintaining a presence in the city. He said:

“Chambers in Edinburgh is still a viable business if they don’t take the books to London and Paris. It’s a blatant example of assett-stripping” Mr Holleran admitted the signs weren’t encouraging but vowed to continue fighting: “We’re doing everything we can to keep these jobs in Scotland and ensure a Scottish presence is maintained for this successful publisher.”

The NUJ are considering the legal options to challenge the move. The union has asked the case to be referred to the European Works Council. They believe it may have breached European legislation governing consultation procedures.

Hachette blame the rise of the internet and the subsequent demise of dictionary sales for making the closure necessary. In an earlier statement a spokesman said they had tried to find alternative options including the possible sale of Chambers, but no buyer was forthcoming.

Further talks between management and the union are set to take place early next week.