Up to eight production journalists face having to relocate more than 130 miles away or take redundancy as part of a regional publisher’s cost-cutting measures.
According to the National Union of Journalists, Newsquest is set to move the roles on its South London weeklies to the company’s production hubs in Newport and Weymouth, which both lie more than 130 miles from the capital.
It is understood redundancy would be available for those who do not want to move to Dorset or Wales.
The announcement comes after the NUJ’s Newsquest South London chapel went on strike during the summer, pictured below, over pay and plans to cut jobs.
The industrial action lasted 11 days before an agreement was reached between Newsquest and the union to pay trainee reporters the London Living Wage.
Six staff still left the titles – which includes the eight-edition South London Guardian series, the Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet and the Richmond & Twickenham Times – but the number of roles lost was understood to be less than the 14 originally proposed.
A statement from the South London chapel, said: “We regret Newsquest South London’s continued attack on experienced journalists and the constant erosion of what separates professional newsrooms from keen amateur blogs.
“These cuts were known in advance and some of the sub-editing team were allowed to take voluntary redundancy as part of that. This came into effect in July of this year.
“We question Newsquest’s priorities and believe this plan to be counter-productive. We are concerned about the detrimental effect this announcement will have on the newsroom, particularly the increase in workload for the editorial staff, and the drop in quality the loss of the sub-editing team will inevitably lead to.
“The loss in experience from the newsroom is immeasurable – many of the sub-editing team have many years of experience behind them and a wealth of knowledge about the areas we serve.
“We will now work closely with our members to ensure the best possible outcome for those involved.”
According to the NUJ Gary Kendall, managing director Newsquest South, said redundancy would be available for those who do not want to move to Dorset or Wales.
The transfer will take place in January and February. He said the move was to “improve operational efficiency within the business and save costs”.
The centralisation of Newsquest’s production operation has seen journalists from its newspapers in several UK regions faced with either moving to the hubs or taking redundancy in recent years.
The company has been asked for a comment by HTFP on the issue.