Johnston Press has announced plans to make 19 editorial redundancies out of an editorial staff of 123 at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post.
It was revealed in April that the two titles will be merged under one editor and the latest cuts come as the rest of the two workforces are merged.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “These cuts will have a disastrous impact on journalism and demonstrate the glaring weakness in the strategy Johnston Press is banking on to claw the company back out its self-inflicted debt. Without quality journalism and properly resourced titles, the company has no chance of reviving its fortunes. The NUJ will support members across the group and I urge the new chief executive Ashley Highfield to urgently rethink this disastrous move.”
Joint NUJ father of chapel at the papers Peter Lazenby said: “We know that regional newspapers are in decline, but the situation at Johnston Press has been vastly exacerbated by financial incompetence, mis-management and bad judgement at the most senior levels of management. For years Johnston Press made profits of 30 per cent and more – huge when compared to other industries. Hundreds of millions of pounds was handed out to shareholders and directors in dividends and bonuses.
“At the same time Johnston Press was borrowing hundreds of millions of pounds to fund an over-ambitious programme of acquisition and expansion. When the financial crash came and income began to dry up they had a debt of some £400m. The share price fell from pounds to a few coppers.
“Then the banks came knocking on the door asking for their money – ironically the same banks that caused the crash and recession in the first place. Huge amounts of Johnston Press money are going straight into the pockets of the bankers at exorbitant rates of interest.
“As usual Johnston Press turns to its workforce to pay the price for this debacle. We are paying with our jobs.
“Over a period of years the editorial workforce at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post has fallen by half. Circulations are in steady decline. The sacking of staff will simply reduce the quality of our papers and hasten their decline.”