Johnston Press anger continues in Halifax

Journalists in Halifax have become the latest Johnston Press staff to ballot for industrial action.

National Union of Journalists members on the Halifax Courier, Brighouse Echo, Hebden Bridge Times and Todmorden News today submitted the notice to ballot.

They are angry over management’s refusal to rule out compulsory redundancies, and the imposition of reduced redundancy terms.

In Leeds, journalists on the Johnston-owned Yorkshire Post and Evening Post have already taken 13 days of strike action over cuts.

During their strike, Halifax Courier staff criticised their editor for allowing Halifax copy to fill the two Leeds papers.

Elsewhere at Johnston Press titles, it was announced yesterday NUJ members at East Lancashire Newspapers had voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.

Today, that was cancelled when management agreed to no compulsory redundancies.

Last month, bosses at the Derry Journal in Northern Ireland also backed down over compulsory redundancies after the union chapel voted for action.

And in Wakefield, journalists on the Wakefield Express are launching a campaign to save their city centre office, after management announced it could be sold.

Chris Morley, NUJ northern organiser, said: “We’ve had ballots or action taking place at Johnston Press offices from Burnley to Hull.

“Journalists are telling the company that their policy of death by a thousand cuts is not acceptable at these newspapers and websites which have a historical role at the heart of their communities.

“In Halifax the chapel is particularly angry about the company decision to cut redundancy pay from the three weeks’ pay per year of service they previously paid to two weeks.”

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said: “In Derry and East Lancashire Johnston Press journalists voted 100 per cent in favour of industrial action of some sort. In Leeds they voted 97 per cent in favour of strike action.

“It is clear that the company policy of slash and burn with no apparent plan for the future has been rejected wholesale by their employees across Britain and Ireland.

“We demand – on behalf of Johnston Press journalists – an urgent meeting with chief executive John Fry to hear the company’s ideas for the future.

“If they won’t give guarantees about quality journalism they should get out of the industry and sell their much-loved titles to someone who will.”

Johnston Press made a £128.4m profit last year – down from £178.1m in 2007 – on revenue down 12.4 per cent to £531.9m. The operating profit margin was 24.1 per cent.

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