Blackpool strike threat over subbing cut fears

The National Union of Journalists is to ballot staff working at the Blackpool Gazette and Herald over possible industrial action.

The 37 members of the union chapel at the Johnston Press group, which includes the daily Blackpool Gazette, the Fleetwood Weekly News and Lytham St. Annes Express, will be sent ballot papers next week.

A dispute has arisen between staff and Johnston Press over what the union believes is the company’s “failure to consult meaningfully” over proposed changes to working arrangements which would see the introduction of a new content management system.

The new technology would allow the creation of formatted page templates into which reporters would write copy, so reducing the need for sub editors.

The union fears the introduction of the new technology could impact on jobs and quality across the range of Johnston Press newspaper titles produced in Blackpool.

The NUJ fears that compulsory redundancies could result. It is also demanding assurances on staffing numbers, pay, grading and status for those affected by the proposed changes.

A statement from Johnston Press said: “The Blackpool Gazette & Herald is introducing a new editorial content management system and the NUJ have given notice that they are to ballot for industrial action.

“They have suggested that the company is failing to conduct meaningful consultation. This is incorrect. Local managers will continue to communicate and consult fully with unions and staff as appropriate.”

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