Journalists at Johnston Press‘s South Yorkshire Newspapers will be balloted on industrial action after its NUJ chapel passed a vote of no confidence in management, the NUJ has announced.
The union said that 20 journalists decided to hold the ballot following an emergency meeting called after the company announced that up to 18 jobs are under threat including around four editorial posts.
Staff were last week told of plans to have one editor covering the South Yorkshire Times, the Goole Courier and the Selby Times instead of three, and that a reporter and editorial assistant at its Mexborough office could lose their jobs.
“Management’s proposals show how flimsy are the Johnston Press claims to believe in local journalism to serve the communities where its newspapers circulate,’said NUJ northern and midlands organiser Chris Morley.
“The company has chosen to attack the editorial department of one of the best performing titles for circulation in its stable.
‘The South Yorkshire Times has fought hard for its reputation as a campaigning newspaper that digs out stories people want to read but this seems to cut no ice with the corporate bean counters.
“Our members are in no mood to accept these wholesale cuts which merely undermine the jobs that remain for the future.
‘It is a disastrous blend of hopelessness and defeatism and shows that Johnston Press has no idea or strategy to grow the business or defend its staff and customers with a positive strategy.”
Johnston Press management was unavailable for comment at the time of publication but managing director John Bills last week said that while 18 jobs are under threat, there are eight full-time equivalent roles vacant across Sheffield Newspapers, South Yorkshire Newspapers and Wilfred Edmunds and employees will be encouraged to apply for the posts.
He added: ‘Prior to any implementation, management will consult extensively on an individual and collective basis. We anticipate that this consultation process will be complete by the 15 July, 2011.”