Journalists at the NUJ’s Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group chapel have passed a vote of no confidence in Johnston Press executive Helen Oldham.
It comes after the company told staff five jobs are to go across the Wakefield Express, Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express and Pontefract and Castleford Express.
The NUJ said the fact Helen Oldham, the managing director of West Yorkshire Publishing Unit, was not present for the announcement ‘shows a complete lack of compassion and disregard for the newspapers and staff involved”.
The union also claimed that when Oldham visited staff in Dewsbury on Tuesday 17 April she ‘gave assurances that there were no immediate plans for staffing changes yet the position has quickly shifted and it seems that the cuts were already being discussed at this stage”.
NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: ‘Cuts in the number of journalists at Yorkshire Weekly Newspapers – when Johnston Press continues to trumpet that ‘life is local’ – seems nonsensical.
‘So while our members are struggling to keep pace with the demands of providing quality local content, it is entirely wrong that the company fails to properly and sensitively discuss its requirements with those who are directly affected.
‘Johnston Press has a track record in provoking the anger of members for trying to push through change too far and too quickly, without proper reference to the union. I therefore urge managers to act sensibly and without provocation.”
Meanwhile, the group is also reportedly planning to merge the editorships of the Fife Free Press and Glenrothes Gazette, and the Kirkintilloch Herald and the Milngavie Herald.
Last month, Johnston announced a similar initiative in Yorkshire when it merged the editorships of the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post.
Earlier this week it emerged that Gillian Gray was leaving the Blackpool Gazette after just seven weeks to become the new editor of sister-title the Lancashire Evening Post, following the departure of Simon Reynolds.
Gray, who joined the Gazette in early April from the Wigan Evening Post, will be replaced by news editor John Rhodes.
Johnston Press had not provided a comment at the time of publication.