Journalists at the Northern Echo and sister titles have voted to take strike action over plans to move production jobs to South Wales.
As reported by HTFP last week, ten sub-editors on Newsquest’s Darlington-based titles have been given the choice of moving 270 miles away to Newport or losing their jobs.
Members of the National Union of Journalists have now voted to take industrial action over the move, with 75pc voting for a strike and 93pc in favour of action short of a strike.
Similar ballots are also taking place at the company’s York and Bradford centres where production roles are also under threat.
The Darlington NUJ chapel said in a statement: “We are delighted to get such a strong vote in favour of industrial action. It clearly shows the strength of feeling among members against the proposals to transfer the work to Wales and potential redundancies.
“We, along with the York and Bradford chapels, will continue to fight to retain members’ jobs and keep production of our valued publications in the North.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet added: “This is a very strong vote for action, which reflects the attitude of the staff, and I expect the chapels in York and Bradford to follow suit.
“Local papers should be produced in the heart of the communities they serve, not 200 miles away in another country.”
The current plans will see the loss of ten full-time and part-time sub-editing jobs and one feature writer’s job on the Northern Echo
All ten production staff affected have been given the option of transferring to the company’s subbing hub in Newport.
The company is understood to be seeking voluntary redundancies in a bid to minimise the need for compulsory job losses, as well as creating three new positions in Darlington for a deputy head of production, night production editor and features writer and coordinator.
Jane Kennedy, assistant NUJ organiser Northern and Midlands region, said: “We are delighted with the ballot result. But, it comes as no surprise.
“People are angry at the proposed moved to Newport which they believe will significantly diminish the quality of the papers produced and their connection to the local communities, create impossible workloads for those staff who are left and cause distress and hardship to those who lose their jobs.
“The callous way this has been handled has left hard-working and dedicated journalists feeling as if they are no more than numbers on a balance sheet. The strength of the result shows that they wanted their voices to be heard loudly and clearly that enough is enough.
“We look forward to the ballot results in York and Bradford next week and have every confidence that they too will produce a yes vote.”
No-one at Newsquest has so far been available for comment.