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Third protest as Bristol journalists prepare for ballot

Editorial staff at Northcliffe’s Bristol headquarters have staged a third protest at plans to cut journalism jobs from the Bristol Evening Post and Western Daily Press.

They protested with placards, leaflets and chanting outside the Temple Way offices shared by the two newspapers.

National Union of Journalists members are angry at proposed job cuts among editorial staff, and at plans announced last week to invite bids for the Northcliffe regional newspaper group.

After the sale announcement, union chapel members at both titles passed a vote of no confidence in managing director Michael Pelosi.

An official postal ballot on industrial action is due to take place shortly.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear told the meeting outside the Post and Press offices that the object of Northcliffe’s Aim Higher cost-saving project was laid bare by the announcement that the Daily Mail and General Trust was putting the firm on the market.

He said: “The devastating job cuts that Northcliffe is seeking are aimed at rewarding shareholders at the expense of a quality regional press.”

Northcliffe’s Aim Higher initiative is aimed at saving £30m over the next two years – up from the original target of £25m – with the company proposing to cut 36 jobs at the Post and Press in January and merge departments on the two papers.

Paul Breeden, father-of-chapel at the newly-formed Western Daily Press NUJ chapel, said: “Getting a horde of 100 mostly tuneless journalists to belt out a rousing anthem is yet another indication of the opposition to these crazy plans.

“We have celebrities, politicians and sports people falling over themselves to lend their support to our campaign because everyone who knows our papers knows they would be severely damaged by so many job cuts.”

Evening Post FoC Derek Brooks said: “The company should be investing in journalists for the long-term future of the papers. Instead they only seem to be interested in ever-increasing and unsustainable profit margins.”

Managing director Tim Kitchen said “We are working our way through the consultation process, and we are part-way through that.”

Among protests from the journalists was a rendition of a re-written version of the hit record Do They Know It’s Christmas, changed to make the chorus “greed’s the word” instead of “feed the world”. The union was also planning to put the workforce on eBay “to find a buyer”. Further protests are being planned.