Tindle Newspapers is facing six days of strike action from journalists at its North London division who complain that three reporters (and a news editor) are producing nine different newspapers.
The dispute centres around staff numbers and a refusal by Tindle Management to guarantee that existing staff will be replaced.
For their part, Tindle management argue that it is perhaps the only newspaper group in the UK not to make journalists redundant in recent years. They say that the nine different editions are in fact largely localised versions of the same papers.
And they insist that non-replacement of staff has avoided redundancies at the loss-making papers.
The nine journalists working out of Tindle’s Enfield offices who are in the NUJ have all voted in favour of taking strike action and they plan to embark on two three-day walk-outs – the first of which starts on 19 April.
In a statement the journalists said: ‘More than a third of editorial staff have left without being replaced and key positions are not being filled. Just three reporters are churning out nine newspapers every week.
‘In the past few weeks management has slashed the sports section by half while the future of the entire arts and leisure section is under threat.
‘As a consequence of its refusal to replace staff an inferior product is being delivered to our readers and, therefore, our advertisers.”
Press Gazette understands that the Enfield titles are losing around £200,000 a year.
Three of the Enfield-based titles were launched in March last year amid much fanfare as Tindle Newspapers owner Sir Ray Tindle said he was bidding to launch his company out of recession – in contrast with other publishers who had been closing titles.
In a statement Tindle Newspapers said: ‘The board of the Tindle Newspaper group has issued a statement expressing regret at the decision of the nine-strong NUJ chapel at Enfield to go on strike over the company’s refusal to change its non-automatic replacement policy for journalists who leave by natural wastage.
“The NUJ announced its strike action the day after the Tindle board made an impassioned plea to all staff, including journalists, at the Enfield newspaper centre to work together to try to come up with new revenue-producing ideas to stem the centre’s rising losses in the recession. Staff were told that no new people could possibly be taken on nor any pay increased since any such action would be irresponsible given the ongoing losses.
“Enfield staff were reminded that Tindle Newspapers is the only newspaper group to have avoided redundancies among journalists in the recession to date. They were told that Tindle is a family company which put staff and their families first in all decisions.
“The group board said it will now give priority to the maintenance of the Enfield papers and the security of the other 50 jobs involved.”
The papers concerned are: The Enfield Advertiser, The Edmonton Advertiser, The Winchmore Hill Advertiser & Herald, The Enfield Gazette, The Barnet &Potters Bar Press, The East Barnet Press & Advertiser, The Edgware & Mill Hill Press, The Hendon & Finchley Press and The Haringey Advertiser.
Note: The picture above was put out by the Enfield NUJ chapel and features senior reporter Lucy Purdy.