Journalists hit by planned newsroom cuts are considering industrial action over proposals to axe three journalist roles.
As reported by HTFP last week, three newsdesk positions on the Echo set to be reduced to one, and one of two copy editors working on Newsquest’s weekly titles in the area also under threat.
Titles affected include the Despatch series, which was relaunched in October more than 30 years after it was last published as an evening sister title to the Echo.
The past fortnight has seen a series of job loss announcements at other Newsquest regional publishing centres including Blackburn, Bolton, Bradford, Gloucestershire, Oxford, Wiltshire and York, with a total of 33 editorial roles set to be lost.
Chris Morley, pictured above left, Newsquest NUJ group co-ordinator, said: “Newsquest is addicted to cuts in a way that gamblers are to fixed odd betting machines. This is no strategy for the short-term – never mind the long-term.
“Savage cuts have not worked in the past 10 years, so why do they think it will turn the company’s fortunes around now? We strongly urge senior management to take matters in hand. Give long-suffering staff the break they so desperately need and reverse the strategy into one of investment.
“With no debt, the company can clearly afford this, but what it can’t afford is a broken and demoralised workforce that is driven into the ground.”
The NUJ also says Newsquest staff have been told payments for working bank holidays and weekends will also be cut, along with mileage rates.
Union reps met on Monday to discuss the situation, but the NUJ says the union refuses to consult with it on a national level.
HTFP has asked Newsquest for a comment on the ballot for industrial action, which will begin on Thursday 7 December.
A spokesman said yesterday: “Whilst the potential redundancies are regrettable, it means we can continue to invest in front line reporters and content generators which are central to the continued success of our publishing business.”