Four newspapers in South Yorkshire will go to press as normal this week despite the majority of their staff being on strike.
Journalists at the Johnston Press-owned titles began indefinite strike action on Friday in protest at plans to cut 18 jobs, including two editors’ roles.
Selby Times deputy editor Richard Parker, who is one of the strikers, said this week’s paper is still expected to go to press as usual at lunchtime tomorrow but is being written by just two members of staff.
The National Union of Journalists is also claiming that a 16-year-old has been asked to extend his work experience by a week at Selby and asked to work on both news and sports stories for this week’s edition.
Speaking to HTFP on Monday Mr Parker claimed the quality of the news would be “poor” with children’s puzzles used to bulk out the content.
The Doncaster Free Press, which goes to print on Wednesday afternoons, normally has around 18 members of staff but this week’s edition is being written by editor Graeme Huston and his deputy Kath Finlay.
Journalists at the Free Press also believe young people on work experience are being used to help publish their paper this week.
NUJ negotiator Lawrence Shaw said: “We want a full and unambiguous assurance from management that they are not relying on youngsters and students working for free to produce content to get their newspapers out.
“If SYN management were found to be abusing the goodwill of youngsters to break the strike it would be utterly unforgivable. They need to make it clear they are not doing this.”
The industrial action followed a unanimous ballot in protest at the company’s plans which National Union of Journalists members feel would result in increased workloads and hours.
Under the restructure, the editors’ jobs at the South Yorkshire Times and Goole Courier are set to disappear at risk, along with that of sports editor of the Doncaster Free Press.
The Mexborough journalists manned the picket line on Saturday and collected hundreds of signatures in support of their plight.
In addition, Mr Parker said 300 people in Selby had signed a petition in support of the strike.
Journalists in Doncaster have also received support from local personalities including actor Chris Walker who formerly starred in Coronation Street.
Johnston Press did not wish to comment when approached by HTFP.