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Strike vote over Midlands subbing hub plan

Ten journalists in the West Midlands are to hold a ballot on strike action over the fate of three colleagues whose jobs may be moved 30 miles way.

As revealed on HTFP earlier this month, regional publisher Newsquest plans the creation of a new subbing hub in Worcester for a series of titles currently produced at Stourbridge.

The titles include the Stourbridge News, Halesowen News, Dudley News, Kidderminster Shuttle, Bromsgrove Advertiser and Redditch Advertiser.

The National Union of Journalists claims the plan threatens journalists’ jobs and will also lower the quality of the titles produced at Stourbridge, and now ten NUJ members based there are to be balloted on industrial action.

NUJ organiser Chris Morley says: “The loss of experienced senior journalists from this centre would also weaken the support available to more junior staff. Cuts have left huge workloads on journalists and the proposals as they stand will make this worse.

“A reasonable alternative strategy has been put forward by the union that would avoid the worst effects of the company’s proposals, but I am not convinced that management will listen to logical arguments alone.

“Newsquest plans put both journalists and journalism at risk at Stourbridge, and our members have drawn a line in the sand to say it is not acceptable. We urge the company to listen carefully to what our members are saying about alternative ways to meet their objectives without causing further damage to these well-loved local titles.

“Our members’ decision to ballot for action shows their determination and commitment to defend their colleagues and titles.”

Newquest Stourbridge publisher Peter John has previously claimed that the proposal would “improve the day-to-day production of the papers and allow the Stourbridge editors to concentrate on improvements to news gathering, content quality and website development.”

He has said no further comment will be made by the company while the eight-week formal consultation process is still ongoing.