Newsquest has revealed the proposed changes at its South West and South East London operations which will see 14 existing roles scrapped.
The plans would see journalists at South-East London’s News Shopper series, which includes six titles, work remotely after the owner of their Petts Wood office announced plans to turn the property into flats.
An internal memo, which has been seen by HTFP, has revealed 14 senior roles are at risk of redundancy.
The posts of group editor, editor, deputy editor, assistant editor and news editor would be scrapped, with all those affected considered for a new deputy group managing editor role.
The number of editorial assistants would be reduced from two to one, while two senior sports roles would be condensed into one content editor (sports) position.
Roles set to disappear altogether onclude those of deputy news editor, assistant news editor, online commercial content developer and two chief reporters.
In addition to the three new roles listed above, those at risk of redundancy will be considered for 11 other vacancies within the proposed structure including six content editors, four news reporters and a sports reporter.
With 14 roles under threat and 14 vacancies available, there will be no net job losses overall, but with a number of senior roles set to disappear, it is likely that some staff will face the prospect of a pay cut if they opt to stay on.
The new centralised unit would be based at the Guardian’s Sutton offices.
A consultation is now underway with affected staff and the restructure is planned to be put in place from Friday 16 June.
The memo from managing director Gary Kendall says “difficult trading conditions” have caused the move.
“The company continues to look at all areas of the business and, where appropriate, reorganise or consolidate in order to deliver efficiencies and reduce costs,” he wrote.
He added: “I realise these are unsettling times, but would like to reassure you that the company will do all it can to avoid the need for redundancies wherever possible.
“It is therefore important that together we consider this in full, and that you are provided with an opportunity to express your own views on this matter.”
The South London chapel of the National Union of Journalists said: “The chapel rejects the company’s proposals to restructure the South London editorial department and to place positions under threat of redundancy.
“The chapel has warned the company that investment, not cost efficiencies, are required to make the business competitive in the long term and maintain quality. It has also warned the company on several occasions that cutting staff is making working conditions perilous and that urgent action is required to rectify this.”
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, added: “The South London NUJ chapel has a determined record of standing up for local quality journalism. They won’t simply sit by and see their papers damaged by cuts driven from above which will leave journalists even more over stretched and readers and advertisers worse off.
“The NUJ is arguing for a short sharp government inquiry into the local press to look at alternatives to the endless cutbacks. This should now be a top priority for the new Culture Secretary in government.”
The cutbacks mirror the recent changes made by Newsquest across its North London, West Essex, South Herts and South Bucks titles.
Those changes saw staff relocated to a central hub in Watford and all 18 titles placed under a single group editor in Tim Jones.