Journalists at Newsquest Bradford have been told to reapply for their posts under a plan to merge newsrooms which is set to result in two job losses, according to union claims.
The National Union of Journalists says 18 journalists working at Bradford’s Telegraph and Argus, Ilkley Gazette, Wharfedale and Airedale Observer and Keighley News are being proposed for redundancy and will have to reapply for 16 new positions.
It says this means those at risk of losing their jobs include the whole of the Keighley and Ilkley reporting staff apart from one trainee, all photographers apart the Craven Herald one and a trainee, along with two editors and senior editorial and newsdesk staff.
The NUJ chapel says it intends to ballot for industrial action over the plans and the company’s continuing pay freeze, as the latest wave of disputes carries on at the group.
Bob Smith, father of chapel at Newsquest Bradford and the UK-wide Newsquest group chapel, said he feared merging resources in the newsrooms would lead to titles losing their identities.
He said: “Newsquest Bradford’s group editor Perry Austin-Clarke attempts to justify the job cuts by saying the sales performance of paid-for weekly titles are disappointing. And his answer is to cut further the number of skilled journalists working on those titles.
“The weeklies will lose their individual identities and readers will be served more poorly. It is obvious to all but our managers where this will lead.
“Newsquest is putting the future of these venerable publications at risk. To pretend that the Keighley News and Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer serve the same audience is to live in cloud cuckoo land.
“The chapel will fight these job cuts tooth and nail. We intend to ballot for industrial action both to resist these unnecessary redundancies and to gain a pay rise for our beleaguered members.”
According to the union, Perry’s statement to staff said: “There is clearly a great deal of synergy between all the newspapers (the Keighley News, Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer, Telegraph and Argus) covering these areas and we believe we can provide far more efficient coverage by merging our resources there.”
No one from Newsquest had responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.