Johnston Press journalists across Northern Ireland vote for strike action in protest at 'chronic under staffing'

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Johnston Press journalists across Northern Ireland have voted in favour of strike action.

The results of the official strike ballots were announced as the company revealed a 22.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profits for 2015 of £31.5m.

Titles involved include: the Larne/Carrick/Newtonabbey Times, Tyrone Times, Mid Ulster Mail, Londonderry Sentinel, Derry Journal and the News Letter.

Some 57 journalists took part  in the ballots and the result was overwhelmingly in favour of action.

The dispute centres around plans to cut 13 journalism jobs in Northern Ireland.

NUJ Irish organiser Nicola Coleman said: "It is outrageous to propose job cuts when this union has consistently highlighted chronic under staffing and the subsequent pressures on our member’s health and wellbeing not to mind the quality of the papers.

"While NUJ members face yet another attack on their working conditions and struggle to serve their communities and produce quality newspapers, senior executives in Johnston Press are rewarding themselves handsomely.

"The annual financial report under the heading 'incentive plans' reveals a bonus arrangement for the 'retention and incentivisation’ of senior managers (excluding executive directors) of £3.9m' which will be payable in March 2016.

"This is in stark contrast to how our members are treated, having endured pay freezes for years and who have only recently seen small percentage increases to their salaries, while restructure after restructure has reduced editorial staffing levels by more than half and wiped out almost all promotional opportunities."

According to the NUJ, Johnston Press has refused a request to withdraw proposals to cut staff until an agreement is reached on staffing levels and redundancy terms. The NUJ is seeking redundancy terms of three weeks’ pay per year of service plus pay in lieu of notice.

The union also wants additional points on the salary scale to compensate for the loss of promotional opportunities.

Yesterday Johnston Press said in its annual results that it plans to sell off, or cut resources, to a number of "non core" titles.

A number of Northern Ireland newspapers are among those which Johnston Press has separately identified as being "sub core" (as opposed to "core", or "uber" in the phraseology used by the company).

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