Newsquest's new boss Faure Walker faces northern revolt over Welsh 'subbing super-hub'

Newsquest is facing 24-hour strikes on its daily and weekly titles in the North East in protest at plans to move sub-editors up to 270 miles away to Newport, in Wales.

Around 25 journalists are facing the stark choice of either moving to Wales or losing their jobs.

According to the NUJ there are 10 jobs at risk in Bradford, where the Telegraph and Argus is produced, five in York (The Press) and 10 in Darlington (the Northern Echo). Various weekly titles are also affected.

It is the latest in a series of moves by Newsquest to increasingly centralise subbing. In 2010, sub-editing of weekly titles in the Newsquest South division was centralised in Worcestor before moving again to Newport in 2013.

Production of the weekly titles published in Darlington was moved to York in 2011. Now it appears that the York subbing hub is set to close with work there moving again to Gwent.

The strike will start on Tuesday, 18 February.

Of the journalists who voted: 80 per cent were in favour of strike action in Bradford, 83 per cent in York and 75 per cent in Darlington.

The NUJ has urged incoming Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker to institute “a moratorium on the plans to destroy the jobs of dozens of loyal and experienced local journalists in favour of an untested subbing super-hub”.

Faure Walker takes over from Paul Davidson on 1 April.

Regional publisher Local World has reversed a previous policy of creating regional subbing hubs and instead likes all journalists working on its titles to be based locally.

NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “By now I suspect Newsquest realises the level of hostility and ill-feeling its reckless plans to export local journalism production to another country is generating.

“The management has a very limited window to avoid a hugely damaging united action by our three affected chapels on the same day. We have suggested a meeting with ACAS to open a dialogue and find a sensible solution. So far, we have not had a reply.
 
"I am now making a public appeal to Henry Faure Walker, the incoming chief executive, to show his staff he has a grip on reality and a willingness to think positively. I call on him to issue an immediate and complete moratorium to further work transferring from the regions to the Gwent subbing hub. The NUJ remains ready and willing to sit down with Mr Walker to thrash out a settlement that retains the maximum number of jobs where they should be – in the local centres."

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "These are very strong votes for action and the management must take note. Newsquest, an American-owned company, clearly has no loyalty to its readers or staff. Local papers should be produced in the heart of the communities they serve, not more than 200 miles away in another country."

Press Gazette contacted Newsquest for a comment and we were invited to email our inquiry to Davidson. At time of publishing he had not responded.

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