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Strike ballot over Lancashire job cut plans

Journalists on three Johnston Press-owned weeklies in East Lancashire are threatening to strike over a management restructuring plan.

The National Union of Journalists says the company wants to restructure operations on the Burnley Express, Nelson Leader and Clitheroe Advertiser and is looking for voluntary redundancies.

The proposal comes on the back of plans to axe seven sub-editing and five photographic jobs in order to create two centralised subbing hubs in the region, originally announced last month.

Now National Union of Journalists’ members on the three weekly titles are balloting for industrial action, just a month after winning union recognition.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern Organiser, said: “This is the second set of proposals management have put forward. The chapel are worried it could lead to compulsory redundancies and make it impossible to run the papers to an acceptable standard.

“The chapel are adamant that they want to defend union members from compulsory redundancy and to defend editorial standards.”

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, added: “The East Lancashire chapel have the union’s full support as they stand up for journalists and journalism.

“It is excellent that having just achieved recognition they are using their new found unity to support each other. I hope others will be inspired by their example.

Northwest divisional managing director Margaret Hilton said: “The notification to ballot in Burnley is a surprising approach by the NUJ given the amicable local consultation meeting that was conducted last week.

“There was a good dialogue on the process we are adopting and we left the meeting with the agreement that we would continue discussions following the end of the voluntary redundancy application period.

“It was acknowledged that we would be better able to discuss the outcome of the review at that point.

“The approach by the NUJ does seem to be premature given the fact we have not proposed a specific organisational restructure at this stage.”