Johnston Press journalists in Northern Ireland hold strike ballot in protest at job cuts

Journalists at Johnston Press in Northern Ireland are threatening to strike over proposed job cuts of 100 across the regional publisher.

Three Johnston Press chapels in Northern Ireland have agreed to ballot for strike action.

The proposed strike action involves journalists working on Morton Newspapers, its local weekly and bi-weekly titles, and the publisher's Belfast daily title, the News Letter.

Up to 13 jobs are at risk in Northern Ireland, as part of the 100 editorial jobs which are set to go across the group in the latest round of cuts to hit the regional publisher of the Yorkshire Post and Wigan Evening Post.

One disgruntled Johnston Press editorial employee in Northern Ireland said: “There is an overwhelming feeling for strike action. In chapel meeting recently there has been particular fury that Ashley Highfield was paid £1.6 million in salary and bonuses last year.

"And senior management around got £3.9 million in bonuses while we are told there isn’t seventy-odd quid to get a freelance reporter to cover a shift.

“The company clearly has money for bonuses – and now to buy the i – yet are now facing another wave of redundancies at papers which already can barely cope under the current staffing levels.”

Johnston Press is to be informed of the plans to ballot for strike action later this week when the ballot papers go out.

The ballot on strike action follows a group chapel motion in January which made a list of demands of Johnson Press.

These included that job cuts and reorganisation be suspended until the company agrees on a list of conditions on staffing level and workloads with the union.

A spokesperson for Johnston Press said: “We are surprised and disappointed by this intended course of action. The management team in Northern Ireland have been working hard to put together a set of proposals about how to manage changes to the newsroom and have taken on board commitment and feedback on salary and career structures.

“We have yet to discuss those proposals with the NUJ and had set a date for that to happen. We will be doing so next week and hope we can work with staff and the NUJ to avoid the theatened industrial action.”

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