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Long hours payment to north-east journalists

A one-off cash payment has been made to Johnston Press journalists in the north-east to make up for “exceptionally” long hours being worked while changes are made at their newspapers.

The problem was brought to the attention of management at the Shields Gazette when a letter from the National Union of Journalists was handed in, suggesting staff might down tools at 4.30pm in a work to rule.

The union claims staff were being forced to work 50-hour weeks, partly because of the introduction of new computer equipment.

Johnston Press managers met the newsroom staff to find a solution and both sides agreed to a one-off £100 payment for reporters and sub-editors as compensation.

Staff at the Sunderland Echo and Hartlepool Mail have also been affected by the technical work and sub-editors there look set for a payment of £200.

The union has held a ballot in Sunderland and South Shields on industrial action as insurance in case the payments are not agreed or the problem persists.

Andrew Smith, editorial director of Northeast Press, said: “Due to the introduction of a new publishing system, exceptional hours have been worked by journalists in our division.

“To help recognise this effort the company have made one-off payments to staff to compensate them for their effort, which we greatly appreciate.

“We understand that a ballot is continuing but we believe that matters have been resolved to everybody’s satisfaction and don’t expect there to be any industrial action.”

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