Strike action is set to hit the Sheffield Star after NUJ members voted 68.1 per cent in favour of a walk-out over five redundancies and the closure of two district offices.
The Johnston Press-owned daily paper plans to cut five jobs – including the reporters for Barnsley and Rotherham – and though management is seeking voluntary redundancies, compulsory dismissals have not been ruled out. The NUJ chapel meets on Monday to plan what action to take.
The Star’s divison, Sheffield Newspapers, has 80 editorial staff, 57 of which voted in the ballot according to the NUJ. The Star reported an average circulation of 50,285 for the first half of the year, 6.5 per cent down year on year.
NUJ Assistant Organiser, Jenny Lennox, said: ‘Members at the Sheffield Star have voted resoundingly in favour of strike action. This isn’t something they will have done lightly, but it’s clear that they feel incredibly strongly about the future of their paper. The proposed cuts are bad for the Star and the communities it serves.
‘It’s also clear that members are deeply upset about the way in which they’ve been dealt with by management. The way that these proposals have been handled has only served to exacerbate what is already a very serious situation.”
Star editor Alan Powell told Press Gazette: ‘The situation is that five editorial jobs are at risk. We will try and mitigate any potential impact by the use of voluntary redundancy or redeployment.
‘What we are doing is reviewing the way the departments are run so we can serve readers in the most efficient way possible and to ensure the continued success of our newspaper.”
Staff at the paper have set up an online petition calling for an end to the proposed cuts. It reads: ‘We the undersigned recognise the vital role of The Star in serving the South Yorkshire community and promoting local democracy. Since 1887 The Star has been reporting on events of local and national importance including the Miners Strike, The Hillsborough Disaster and the Floods of 2007.
‘We are concerned to hear of the proposed job cuts and feel they threaten the ability of the remaining staff to continue to perform this important job. We also protest at the closure of district offices in Barnsley and Rotherham and fear for the future of Doncaster office, which is ‘under review’.
‘To this end we pledge our support to the Save Our Star campaign and urge Johnston Press management to reconsider their position on redundancies and any future editorial cuts at the newspaper.”