Journalists across Johnston Press have urged the company to undertake an “urgent” review of pay and staffing levels.
The National Union of Journalists says members working at 10 different JP titles have written to the company of what it has called “widespread discontent” among staff.
Members working for The Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News, Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette, Hartlepool Mail, Lancashire Post, Blackpool Gazette, Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post and the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad have all urged the regional publisher to take action, according to the NUJ.
The company has said individual editors will respond to the union’s letter at local level.
The company’s latest financial results showed it recorded a £16.2m operating profit for the first half of 2017 despite a 3.6pc drop in revenues.
A Johnston Press NUJ group chapel spokesperson said: “As the summer holidays approached, it became clearer than ever that many teams were not sufficiently staffed to cope with people taking annual leave, maternity/paternity leave or time owed in lieu without placing undue pressure upon those who remain in work.
“This is being exacerbated by the company’s unnecessarily slow recruitment process when journalists leave or take maternity/paternity leave. The failure to make timely decisions in these situations adds further stress to those left picking up the additional work.
“We urge the company to give serious consideration to the points raised by the chapels in each of their letters and would welcome the opportunity to discuss our members’ concerns further.”
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, added: “Johnston Press NUJ chapels are keen to work together to send a strong message to management about these issues. Morale has been hit hard and there is a real feeling that the company is not recognising the commitment from staff in very difficult circumstances.
“Recent financial results have been publicly hailed as positive by the company, so members want to see that view made concrete by ending the pay freeze and by making sure there are adequate numbers of staff for a safe working environment.”
A Johnston Press spokesman said: “The NUJ has sent a templated letter to a number of Johnston Press editors. These editors will respond to this on a local level.
“There will be a pre-arranged meeting with the NUJ and company officials next week.”