Johnston Press's Sheffield journalists to strike next week

Journalists on the Sheffield Star and its sister titles are to strike next week over plans by local managers to halve the number of production jobs at the Johnston Press ‘editorial hub’ in the city.

The 48-hour strike will begin next Wednesday, 9 February after members of the National Union of Journalists balloted in favour of action.

The decision to hold a two-day walkout came after a meeting of NUJ members earlier this week.

Union members intend to act on their strike vote unless management guarantees there would be no compulsory redundancies under reorganisation plans at the ‘hub’.

They are also demanding that freelance jobs be converted into staff posts where these become available through reorganisation. And they are also insisting on a proper response from Johnston Press to their claim for a pay increase.

Forty-three of the 57 members of the Star NUJ’s chapel took part in last week’s ballot, with 65 per cent of those voting opting for strike action and 35 per cent voting against.

The move for industrial action came just days after John Furbisher announced that he was to step down as editor of the Star, a post he had held for just over a year.

The strike vote was set in motion earlier this month by the NUJ over fears that up to ten jobs – around half its current workforce – could be lost from Sheffield’s subbing ‘hub’.

The hub was created nine months ago to take on production duties for Johnston Press papers in the North East and Yorkshire.

Notification of the strike vote moved Johnston Press to assure staff that its plans to cut production staff in Sheffield would not lead to overall job losses.

Johnston Press told staff that following a review of the Sheffield subbing team it proposed to reduce staff numbers by 9.5 full-time roles, while creating five new posts.

Job losses would be offset by redeployment, the company said, as an additional 18 editorial roles were available within the North Midlands/South Yorkshire region.

However, staff fear that compulsorily redundancies could still be likely.

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