Newsquest's Stourbridge staff vote for industrial action

Journalists at Newsquest‘s Stourbridge operation have balloted in favour of industrial action over plans to move three sub-editing jobs to the company’s “hub” in Worcester.

According to the National Union of Journalists, all ten of its members in Stourbridge that were sent ballot papers last week indicated they would be willing to take action over proposals to shift colleagues to a subbing centre 30 miles away.

The union said its members had already seen workloads increase as a result of cuts at Stourbridge.

The union fears moving the posts to Worcester risks lowering the quality of the six newspapers currently produced at Stourbridge, which included the Stourbridge News, Halesowen News, Dudley News and the Bromsgrove Advertiser.

Chris Morley, NUJ organiser, said: “Our members at Stourbridge have shown decisively with this vote that they are not prepared to put up with changes that would rip the heart out of an editorial team that has performed heroically in the face of constant cutbacks.

“They have sent the loudest possible message to management that they consider the company’s plans to be unwelcome and unsuitable – and they want their concerns listened to, not trampled over.”

Morley said the chapel had put forward alternative plans that would retain the “strong local identity and teamwork that has enabled the Stourbridge Newsquest centre to maintain quality journalism on strong local titles”.

Peter John, publisher of Newsquest Stourbridge, wrote to staff last month telling them the company had set in motion a “consultation process with the news sub-editors at Stourbridge over a proposal for the work they currently carry out to be moved to the Worcester central subbing department”.

Her added: “If implemented, this proposal would improve the day-to-day production of the papers and allow the Stourbridge Editors to concentrate on improvements to news gathering, content quality and website development.

“All sub-editors currently working at Stourbridge are being offered the chance to transfer.”

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