Newsquest journalists in the North West have balloted for strike action over company plans to move editorial production to a subbing hub in Newport, Wales.
Voting for industrial action, journalists said they fear the plans will risk editorial quality and lead to redundancies and unacceptable workloads, according to the National Union of Journalists (previous Newsquest strikers pictured).
Titles affected include the Warrington Guardian and Northwich Guardian in Cheshire, the Sale and Altrincham Messenger, Trafford, the Wirral Globe in Birkenhead, the St Helens Star in Merseyside, Bolton News, Bolton Journal, Bury Journal, Bury Times and the Lancashire Telegraph.
According to the NUJ, members in the Warrington chapel voted 93.1 per cent in favour of strike action, and members in the Blackburn chapel 83.1 per cent in favour.
These are the first of five NUJ Newsquest chapels balloted. Members in London, Brighton and Southampton have also balloted on similar issues, as well as on pay, with the results to be published later this week.
Earlier this year members in York, Darlington and Bradford went on a one-day strike over job losses caused by moving editing to Newport.
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands Organiser, said:
NUJ members at the Newsquest centres in Blackburn and Warrington have shown from these very strong results that they are prepared to defend themselves and their colleagues by strike action if necessary. This should act as a massive wake-up call to directors. Our members have seen the calamitous results of the botched implementation of the new Knowledge system, the new editorial software which enables remote editing. This is all about the company’s greed to cut costs and has badly affected working conditions and editorial quality. Our members in the North West are ready to take a stand to prevent the same damage being wrought on their journalism.
Even at this late hour, we call on Newsquest to take a more measured approach to achieving its aims, so that its stable of valued and respected titles are spared further damage in the eyes of the reading public. Consultation with staff has been scant, a bare minimum of what is required, and none has taken place with the community which will be the ultimate judge on the company’s plans.”
The NUJ said it is waiting for a reply from Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker to a letter from 30 May calling for talks to discuss the dispute.
It said the chapel will be meeting to discuss the timetable and form of action.