Striking Newsquest journalists will be on the picket line until Friday in a further extension to planned industrial action over cuts affecting titles in south London and Surrey.
Journalists at the regional publisher’s Sutton hub, which produces 11 newspapers and eight associated websites, were due to return to work on Wednesday after striking all of last week.
The National Union of Journalists has said the regional publisher is looking to cut 11 editorial roles at the office, leaving 12 reporters covering news, sport and leisure under a single content editor.
It said seven reporters have resigned over the dispute, which centres on pay, workloads, understaffing and fears over the decline in the quality of newpapers.
The company has said it wants the per-page cost to drop from £109 to £53, according to the NUJ, and has axed a contract with a photographic agency.
Two titles, the Wandsworth and Croydon Guardians, have been left without a reporter or editor while five New Shopper titles covering four boroughs have two trainee reporters, the NUJ said.
The Surrey Comet, the newspaper founded 1854 which covers Kingston-upon-Thames and surrounding area, has been left with no editor and two reporters, said the union.
It added the Wimbledon Guardian has one reporter and no editor, the Sutton Guardian has two reporters and no editor and the Epsom Guardian has one reporter and no editor.
A number of politicians have backed the strike, including shadow chancellor John McDonell
A spokesperson for the NUJ’s south London chapel said: “We are still feeling upbeat and up for the fight. It was sad to see our colleagues leave last week, but we know they will continue to support us.”
“The chapel would like to thank all the politicians who have contacted Newsquest management and everyone who has contributed to the strike fund.
“Former staff member have called by, they still care about the paper and know how strongly we feel about being able to put out quality news, features and sport. That is all we are asking for.”
A Newsquest spokesperson said: “Obviously, we have a very different perspective than the National Union of Journalists’ PR.
“We’re trying to build a sustainable future for these free newspapers. We’re disappointed that the Union still refuses to understand this and the structural changes that are impacting our industry.
“We will continue to publish.”