Johnston Press staff are facing another round of job losses after the publisher announced plans to close five offices across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
It says the proposal, which would affect Matlock, Sutton, Mansfield Marketplace, Ripley and Mexborough offices, would not see any local papers close.
Staff would continue reporting on the local areas and could, in some cases, be working in the offices of other organisations, such as tourist information centres and community groups.
Chris Morley, the NUJ’s Northern England Organiser, said the plan was ‘bizarre”.
He said: ‘There are some rather worrying features in it [Johnston Press’ announcement].’The regional publisher says the arrangement would encourage ‘local community engagement”.
The company said: ‘Local reporters and sales staff will continue to cover these areas through agreed contact points and regular reporter surgeries.”
The news comes a day after the Johnston Press published the last editions of five newspapers, including two Yorkshire titles, the Leeds Weekly News and the Pudsey Times.
When those closures were announced last month, chief executive Ashley Highfield hinted at possible office closures, citing the company’s Working Environment Charter.
Morley added in a statement: “The closure by Johnston Press of so many offices in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire sends out all the wrong signals to the local communities about the company’s commitment to local journalism and serving their needs. These offices are at the heart of their communities and give the local title a unique advantage and sense of accessibility to readers.
“The arrangements Johnston Press are talking about putting in place are quite simply unworkable.”
The Mexborough office, which is in the Doncaster constituency of Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, was the centre of a dispute last summer when the Doncaster Free Press chapel went on strike for 55 days over compulsory redundancies, including Jim Oldfield, the editor.