The cull of staff photographers in Johnston Press has been extended to another of the company’s regional divisions, it has emerged.
Earlier this year HTFP revealed that the whole of the company’s Midlands region was to be left without any staff photographers following a review of how photographic content is generated, a move that was later extended to some JP titles in the North West.
Now it has emerged that all staff photographers at the JP-owned Morton Group of newspapers in Northern Ireland have either been made redundant or are facing the axe.
A source told HTFP that photographic staffers were offered enhanced voluntary redundancy on the full portfolio of around 16 titles, on March 28.
It understood seven or eight posts were affected and while most of these opted for redundancy, two have been left facing compulsory redundancy.
A spokesman for Johnston Press said: “We are currently in talks with a small number of staff whose jobs are at risk of redundancy. Discussions are ongoing with relevant parties.”
The staff facing compulsory redundancy are understood to work at the Larne Times and the Ballymena Times.
As was the case in the Midlands region, some of the photographers whose roles were axed have been offered freelance contracts with the papers.
However some are said to have have refused to sign it, claiming it does not allow for travelling expenses and includes a new single job payment of £12.50 labelled “derisory” by one source.
In January the company confirmed it would have no staff photographers for titles across its Midlands publishing division, which includes newspapers in Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire.
There were understood to be fewer than ten compulsory redundancies among the photographic staff affected.
Johnston Press introduced an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme for staff last autumn in a bid to help pay down its £320m debt.
The company’s annual results in March that the scheme contributed to a reduction in overall headcount of 609 over the course of 2013, not including staff who left in the early months of this year.