More than 20 journalists’ jobs are set to go at three Newsquest centres in Yorkshire and the North-East in a new subbing hub move, according to union claims.
The National Union of Journalists says sub-editing roles at York, Bradford and Darlington are at risk over plans to switch production to the group’s subbing hub in Newport, South Wales.
If the plan goes ahead, it could see the Darlington-based Northern Echo subbed in Newport, 270 miles away.
The union says 23 jobs are set to be lost in all, with five at risk in York, 11 at Bradford and seven in Darlington.
Other papers affected by the plan include The Press, York and the Bradford Telegraph and Argus along with sister weeklies such as the Craven Herald, Ilkley Gazette and Wharefdale Observer, Keighley News, Durham Times and Darlington and Stockton Times.
The move comes two months after Newsquest axed its production hub in Worcester with the loss of 15 jobs, with some of the work transferred to the Newport hub.
Chris Morley, the NUJ’s Northern & Midlands organiser, said: “Even by Newsquest standards, it is breath-taking if management think no consequences will flow from sending local news around 270 miles from the far north of England to the southern fringe of Wales.”
It is understood that staff were told of the latest plans at a 4pm meeting yesterday afternoon.
One staffer who do not wish to be named described the news as a “hammer blow.”
He told HTFP: It comes as a hammer-blow to be told, after a couple of years of working long days and going that extra yard for the company, without a pay rise for five years, that you can either decamp to Wales or face being made redundant.
“It is typical of the way Newsquest and other large newspaper groups push people around and crunch numbers to satisfy shareholders, without taking a longer view about the state of the industry and the newspapers they produce.”
Mark Stead and Tony Kelly, York’s NUJ joint Fathers of the Chapel, said: “We are totally outraged at this development and opposed to any more redundancies.
“For the past six years our members have borne the brunt of a hack and slash policy of sackings, frequent bouts of non-replacement of staff, and crippling pay freezes, which, combined with the high rise in the cost of living, effectively means almost annual pay cuts.
“Management say the new system will improve editorial operation within the entire Newsquest business. How can this be when local newspapers, whose daily existence and lifeblood hinges on the closest of links with their respective communities, are to be produced hundreds of miles away, indeed in another country?
“It seems ridiculous that three local newspapers in York, Bradford and Darlington are again being systematically dismantled, downgraded and ultimately destroyed to make yet more profit for a parent company, which has shown little regard for, or faith in, hundreds of hard-working and ever more flexible staff.”
No-one from Newsquest has so far responded to requests for a comment.