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Union threatens strike action over job cuts

Union members at a north-east newspaper centre have voted unanimously in favour of balloting for industrial action.

The National Union of Journalists’ chapel at Newsquest North East met yesterday afternoon to discuss possible courses of action after it was announced last week that 17 editorial jobs would be culled at the Darlington centre.

Around 55 NUJ members voted for industrial action, including possible strike action, if the company tries to push through compulsory redundancies.

Father of the Chapel Adam Murray said: “With 17 to go, I will be astonished if there are none.

“We don’t know how many people will go forward for voluntary but 17 jobs represents around one sixth of all editorial.”

Meetings are being scheduled with a representative from each editorial department but Adam says the chapel is adamant that NUJ reps should be present at all meetings during the consultation.

“There will be redundancies in advertising and other departments but I don’t know the time scale of other departments,” he said.

“The total from the whole building will be between 45 and 50 staff, including the 17 from editorial.”

The Darlington centre publishes The Northern Echo, The Darlington and Stockton Times, the Durham Times and the Advertiser Series – employing just over 100 editorial staff.

It was also revealed on Friday that Newsquest North East was proposing to close five district offices – Stockton, Redcar, Barnard Castle, Richmond and Thirsk – and relocate staff.

And Newsquest appears to have issued a company-wide pay freeze with the next salary review due in April.

Staff seeking voluntary redundancy are expected to find out whether it has been granted by 5 December.

Northern Echo editor Peter Barron and managing director David Coates were both unavailable for comment.


Merryweather (25/11/2008 16:34:30)
There must be a business award available for a management team that transforms a company that fills papers with vibrant news into a company more suited to filling pie crusts with gravy. This really is an achievement.

Peter Lazenby (26/11/2008 09:36:19)
Congratulations to our colleagues at Newsquest North East on their decision to resist compulsory redundancies. We at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post in Leeds are in a similar position. Our Joint Chapel has voted to ballot immediately if the company (Johnston Press) attempts to enforce redundancies.
Peter Lazenby
Joint FoC.