Journalists at Newsquest‘s south and west London newspapers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action – the latest move in a long-running dispute between NUJ members and management.
Earlier this month members passed a vote of no confidence in two senior management figures – managing director Roger Mills and director of advertising Dene Stuart – and in April began working to rule.
In the latest ballot, out of 23 returns a total of 22 NUJ members voted in favour of a strike, while all voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike.
The vote comes days after journalists working on the south and west London papers were told Newsquest was axing its sport and leisure team with the loss of eight jobs.
Consultation on the redundancies is underway and is expected to finish by the end of June.
Last week, NUJ members said they had received the backing of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
‘As someone who has been involved in journalism for all of his professional life, I think what local papers do is absolutely crucial in keeping local people informed about developments in life and their area,’said Johnson.
‘Most people get their information from local papers and I hope whatever Newsquest are doing, and I wouldn’t like to second guess their reasons for it, but I hope it will not affect the excellent coverage of news provided across the series.”
The union claimed the cuts would mean that news, sport and leisure coverage for seven newspapers would be produced by 12 reporters and two editors.
Mother of chapel Thais Portilho-Shrimpton said: ‘Mr Mills is clearly dismantling our newspapers in London, apparently to make savings of £210k by the end of June.
‘From what I have been told in meetings with senior management, Newsquest operates with quarterly targets, which regional MDs must meet, instructed by Paul Davidson, which is an incredibly short-sighted way of conducting a business, in our chapel’s opinion.
‘The NUJ has long claimed that all profits made by Newsquest nationally are passed on to our parent company in America, Gannett, and the ever increasing demand for higher profits by their shareholders makes it impossible for Newsquest to continue delivering a meaningful service in the local newspaper industry.
‘Proof of it is the fact that our editorial space continues to shrink, our staff is being made redundant and our newspapers are soon to be turned into advertising leaflets with the odd news story crammed in.”
A date for the strike action will be fixed tomorrow.
Press Gazette contacted the office of Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson but he was unavailable for comment.
The affected papers are: the Croydon Guardian, Elmbridge Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Streatham Guardian, Surrey Comet, Sutton Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian and Wimbledon Guardian