Strike action looms at Herts and Essex Newspapers

NUJ members at Herts and Essex Newspapers are to hold a second ballot for industrial action following proposals by Iliffe News & Media to arrange a major editorial restructure resulting in various senior redundancies.

The chapel had previously voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, but the company said the vote was invalid because the NUJ didn't provide the numbers and job titles of union members involved.

The company's proposals would see the posts of editor and news editor at the Hoddesdon and Cheshunt Mercury series and its sister title the Hertfordshire Mercury axed and replaced with one overall editor and news editor.

Herts and Essex Observer editor Val Brown faces redundancy and her role would be given up to the HEN editorin- chief Colin Grant and the Harlow Star and Lea Valley Star series' editors would be replaced with one editor.

The possibility of closing an office in Hoddesdon will lead to missed business opportunities, claim the chapel, especially in light of the area helping to host the Olympic Games in 2012.

The chapel is pushing for the restructuring process to be suspended to allow for extensive talks with management, believing the plans would be "detrimental to the quality and efficiency of publications" and has reiterated its vote of no confidence in Grant.

HEN managing director Paul Thompson said he would make no further comment at this stage. Previously he warned the chapel that industrial action could prompt more cost-cutting.

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