Lagardere 'Works Committee' to review Chambers Harrap closure

<p>A &quot;high-level meeting&quot; to discuss the proposed closure of the Edinburgh office of Chambers Harrap has been called by a staff body within the publisher&#39;s parent company Lagardere. It follows the announcement made three weeks ago that parent Hachette wanted to fold the two businesses into its French and London arms. </p><p>The European Works Committee has also requested that the 27 redundancies, due to take place at the end of this week (16th October), are postponed until next year so an independent financial study can be undertaken.</p><p>The Committee is expected to invite representatives of Chambers Harrap to attend the meeting, which will take place in Paris sometime in the next fortnight. Liam Rodger, father of the NUJ chapel at the Scottish-based publisher, said the committee had not been informed of the decision to close Chambers Harrap, and only learned of it after the news appeared in the media. He said: &quot;After they found out through the press, they raised the matter with Lagardere. . . and that is why they called an extraordinary meeting.&quot;</p><p>He added: &quot;There are a number of issues to discuss at the meeting, based on what we feel is a flawed review of the company, which was carried out without direct input from anyone in the company, including the m.d. We feel they have failed to properly estimate the potential for digital innovation. Also there is the importance &ndash; particularly of Chambers &ndash; in Scottish publishing &ndash; around which there is a lot of concern. Not all options have been, we think, fully reviewed. That is the case we would want to make.&quot;</p><p>Rodger said he expected &quot;some sort of acknowledgement that the process has been extended&quot; before the deadline on Friday. </p><p>A spokesperson for Hachette declined to comment on the forthcoming meeting, but said staff consultations were ongoing in the UK. She added: &quot;Before we made the announcement, we commissioned a thorough independent review of the Chambers Harrap business and subsequently looked hard for a potential purchaser for the Chambers business either in Scotland - we fully appreciate the long association with Edinburgh - or further afield and absolutely none was forthcoming.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We have not received any serious offers of interest to purchase Chambers from potential buyers since our announcement.&quot; </p><p>The spokesperson added: &quot;We are doing everything we can to find alternative jobs within the Hachette group and elsewhere in publishing. It is early days, but I know that some members of staff already have meetings lined up within HUK.&quot; A meeting is taking place today (Monday 12th October) between Chambers and Hachette HR representatives.</p><p>Last week the Scottish organiser for the NUJ, Paul Holleran, brought the matter up at the Scottish Parliament. Rodger said it was now &quot;a matter of concern&quot; among ministers.</p><p>Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish Organiser, added: &quot;We are delighted that the works council are demanding a delay in the process. There are a number of issues that the company cannot ride roughshod over.&quot;</p><p>In a letter published in this week&#39;s <em>Bookseller</em>, Rodger said Chambers Harrap had a &quot;special place&quot; in Scottish publishing, adding that &quot;staff&quot; were &quot;actively pursuing opportunities that have arisen, prompted by these concerns, to keep the business in Edinburgh&quot;. </p>