More jobs to be axed at Johnston Press
15 June 2012
Johnston Press have announced 19 editorial redundancies at the Leeds-based Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post. The job losses represent 15 per cent of the 123-strong editorial workforces of the two papers.
The two papers' employees are to be merged into a single editorial workforce and staff will work for both papers. The latest round of job cuts will save Johnston Press roughly £600,000 a year on its wages bill.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:
"These cuts will have a disastrous impact on journalism and demonstrate the glaring weakness in the strategy Johnston Press is banking on to claw the company back out its self-inflicted debt. Without quality journalism and properly resourced titles, the company has no chance of reviving its fortunes.
"The NUJ will support members across the group and I urge the new chief executive Ashley Highfield to urgently rethink this disastrous move."
Peter Lazenby, one of the two Joint Fathers of Chapel (and office branch chairman) at the papers, said:
"One again, Johnston Press is responding to its financial situation with a policy of slash and burn.
"We know that regional newspapers are in decline, but the situation at Johnston Press has been vastly exacerbated by financial incompetence, mis-management and bad judgement at the most senior levels of management.
"For years, Johnston Press made profits of 30 per cent and more – huge when compared to other industries. Hundreds of millions of pounds was handed out to shareholders and directors in dividends and bonuses.
"At the same time, Johnston Press was borrowing hundreds of millions of pounds to fund an over-ambitious programme of acquisition and expansion. When the financial crash came and income began to dry up they had a debt of some £400m. The share price fell from pounds to a few coppers.
"Then the banks came knocking on the door asking for their money – ironically the same banks that caused the crash and recession in the first place. Huge amounts of Johnston Press money are going straight into the pockets of the bankers at exorbitant rates of interest.
"As usual, Johnston Press turns to its workforce to pay the price for this débâcle. We are paying with our jobs.
"Over a period of years the editorial workforce at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post has fallen by half. Circulations are in steady decline. The sacking of staff will simply reduce the quality of our papers and hasten their decline."
The NUJ Joint Chapel is meeting to draw up its response to the latest redundancies. Three years ago, the workforce took strike action against compulsory redundancies.
The day after the redundancy announcement at Yorkshire Post Newspapers, Johnston Press announced six redundancies out of a sub-editors' pool of eight in Sheffield.
Two weeks ago, Johnston Press sacked 40 Leeds-based advertising staff.