The Times of India has laid off 20 journalists from Kerala in its second round of pandemic triggered downsizing exercise. Layoffs have also been announced in Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Fifteen journalists from the editorial and five journalists from the Kochi Times supplement have been laid off, according to sources in the newspaper. This includes senior journalists who have worked with the group for many years. Those whose contracts have been abruptly terminated have been given a notice period of two months to find other opportunities. “However, there was no prior intimation from the newspaper on the layoff. It was very very sudden,” says one of the staff members who got the notice. Many journalists TNM spoke to said that they received a call over WhatsApp and were asked to send in their resignations. “The company won’t give us any letter informing about the termination, they want us to resign,” a journalist from Kerala told TNM. Not just in Kerala, the legacy paper has downsized across departments and states, with an attempt to cut down costs. The reason cited was the pandemic triggered losses incurred by Bennett Coleman and Company Limited or BCCL, Times of India’s parent group in 2020. “The project revenues for this year is only 1/5 of what the company was making pre pandemic. So after budgeting, the paper has decided to do a second round of downsizing, bringing it to half its earlier strength,” a source aware of the developments tells TNM. In Tamil Nadu, the paper has laid off five journalists, with one from Trichy and Madurai each. According to reports, the Hyderabad bureau has laid off 10 journalists. From the Bengaluru office, three staff members including an employee involved in Sunday Times, have been laid off. The layoffs have been done across departments including finance, editorial, HR, marketing, circulation etc. The paper has also reportedly laid off eight scribes from Nagpur, three from Goa, and 5-7 staff from Delhi. “After one more budgeting session, the paper will decide if it needs to downsize more or adjust with pay cuts for the remaining staff,” the source added. In May 2020, the Times of India Kerala laid off 13 journalists across editions without prior intimation. Following this, a Thiruvananthapuram based journalist who was terminated after he refused to quit challenged BCCL by moving the labour court. Nine months after he petitioned, the case is still yet to be heard by the labour court, sources say. “There is no way to challenge these layoffs legally, unless you are prepared to wait for several years. Otherwise it’s forced termination,” a senior journalist whose contract ended, told TNM.