Journalists on Newsquest weekly newspapers across South London vote for strike in protest at job cuts

Members of the National Union of Journalists at Newsquest in Sutton, South London, have voted unanimously for strike action over redundancies, staffing levels and pay.

Last month, Newsquest announced plans to merge its South East and South West London operations and cut a number of jobs.

It is the latest in a wave editorial redundancies at Newsquest titles across the UK. The group is also facing industrial action in protest against job cuts in York.

The newspaper titles affected include: The Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Balham and Tooting Guardian, Mitcham and Morden Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet, and the Richmond & Twickenham Times. The News Shopper series has editions in Dartford, Lewisham, Greenwich, Gravesend, Bexley and Bromley.

According to the NUJ, the posts of group editor, editor, deputy editor, assistant editor and news editor are to be replaced with one group deputy managing editor.

Two senior sports journalist roles across South East and South West London will be replaced, under the scheme, with one content editor (sports).

The number of editorial assistants will be cut from two to one and the roles of online commercial content developer, deputy news editor, assistant news editor and chief reporters jobs are also at risk of redundancy.

There are said to be 11 vacancies within the proposed restructure for Newsquest South London. Those at risk of redundancy will be considered for six content editor (news) jobs, four reporter (news) jobs and one sports reporter job.  

The new structure is proposed to take effect from Friday 26 June 2015.

Announcing the vote for strike action, NUJ national organiser Laura Davison said: "We have a clear message from our members that they have had enough and are prepared to take strike action. It isn't just the latest threats of redundancies. It is the attrition of cuts upon cuts and the lack of investment in the newspapers and websites which have led to high workloads and stress. Gannett, the American parent company, is able to pay its CEO, Gracia Martore, in excess of £7.5m but is reluctant to award its staff here the most modest of pay increases.

"We have written to John Whittingdale, the culture secretary, outlining what has been a nightmare month for local newspapers. This week, Trinity Mirror announced it was putting 45 jobs at risk in the Midlands and Scotland, the NUJ has a 24-hour strike at the Rotherham Advertiser next week over the proposed redundancy of Phil Turner, the newspaper's FoC, and Newsquest is to lay off photographers and picture desk staff at the Swindon Advertiser, Wiltshire Gazette and Herald and Wiltshire Times."

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