Blackpool journalists to refuse Atex training

Journalists at the Johnston Press-owned Blackpool Gazette and Herald will refuse to take part in training related to a new content management system in protest at its introduction.

Union members voted earlier this week to take industrial action over possible subbing cuts which could result from the introduction of the new Atex technology.

The ballot followed what union members said was management’s “failure to consult meaningfully” over the technology which will enable reporters to input their stories straight on to the newspaper page.

The union claims the new system will also result in stories appearing in print without being overseen by sub-editors.

Plans to introduce Atex at Johnston Press centres in the Midlands and north of England today brought threats of region-wide industrial action from 13 NUJ chapels.

As a result of the Blackpool ballot, from Wednesday, 10 March, union members in the Lancashire town will not be taking part in any Atex-related training, until further notice.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said: “Members in Blackpool are fed up with the lack of real information about Atex and how it will likely impact on them and their jobs.

“They are therefore boycotting the training needed to operate the system until members are properly informed about the company’s plans.

“If the company sit down with the union and discuss the implementation of this system properly, a damaging dispute can be avoided. I urge the management to start talking.”

Darren Russell, managing director of Blackpool Gazette & Herald, told Press Gazette the newspaper group was committed to consultation on Atex.

He said: “Having noted the outcome of that ballot we will continue to discuss the impact of the new editorial content management system.

“We are committed to meaningful consultation with staff and this process has not been exhausted. Any industrial action taken by the Blackpool NUJ will not benefit anyone.”

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