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Strike ballot over Johnston Press job cuts back on

Journalists are to hold a strike ballot over plans by regional publisher Johnston Press to cut jobs in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Members of the National Union of Journalists in Sheffield have decided to be balloted for industrial action over proposals to cut two chief photographer roles and the equivalent of six full-time production roles.

Union members at the Sheffield Star and sister paper the Telegraph had threatened last week that they would strike over fears there would be compulsory redundancies.

But the plans were temporarily shelved after NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley had what he described as  “encouraging” talks with management.

However following a chapel meeting, members have now decided to go ahead with the ballot saying there has been no guarantee on compulsory job losses from the company.

Chris said: “Although good progress was made in talks with the company about eliminating the need to make compulsory redundancies at Sheffield, the chapel was not sufficiently reassured at this stage that all its members would have their situation resolved to their satisfaction.

“We are therefore conducting a ballot for industrial action at Sheffield Newspapers to safeguard our members against the prospect of forced job losses until we have complete assurance otherwise.”

The proposals affect the two Sheffield papers, the Doncaster Free Press and the Derbyshire Times.

It is understood eight production staff members are facing losing their jobs in total, five of whom work in Sheffield, while the chief photographer jobs at risk are at Doncaster and Sheffield.

When he announced the proposed job cuts, John Bills, managing director of JP’s South Yorkshire and North Midlands operation, said the company would attempt to minimise the impact through voluntary redundancy and re-deployment to alternative positions.

Johnston Press has declined to comment further.