The NUJ said it would ‘robustly fight any compulsory redundancies’at Johnston Press and was seeking an urgent meeting with the newspaper publisher after it announced plans to switch five of its daily titles to weeklies earlier today.
The union said that while the extent of the jobs cuts remained unclear, the proposals meant the Halifax Courier’s district offices in Brighouse, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden would be closed with staff centralised at the Courier’s head office. Nine of the Courier’s 22 editorial jobs are also said to be under threat.
Other papers making the switch are the Scarborough Evening News, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Peterborough Evening Telegraph and Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph. Johnston said this morning’s announcement was part of plans to embrace “platform neutral” publishing.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: ‘The NUJ is now looking to meet [Johnston Press chief executive] Ashley Highfield at the earliest possible opportunity. We are not against looking at innovative solutions to changes in the newspaper industry, but the lack of consultation with staff and the union is not the way to go about it. We will robustly fight any compulsory redundancies.”
Deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said Highfield’s announcement this morning was a ‘bold strategy… at a time when new solutions are needed”, but said the chief executive ‘must not lose sight of the fact that it will not succeed without quality journalism”.
He added: ‘If jobs are lost, this will happen. We need to know a lot more details. How will the weekly paper and seven-days-a- week daily digital output integrate and how will it affect the working practices of staff?
‘Johnston Press is clearly making savings on print but how will it recoup money lost from cover prices and advertising revenue? I hope that it isn’t rushing into an ill-thought-out strategy because it is being put under pressure by the banks.”
NUJ members working on the Scotsman are set to meet with management tomorrow following the departure of editor John McLellan last week as part of a major editorial shakeup.
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