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Atex threatens jobs at Yorkshire Post titles

15 September 2010

Management at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post have announced proposals to install Atex as the new editorial content management system. Twelve jobs at the newspapers have been put at risk as a result.

The potential for job losses, including the possibility of compulsory redundancies, will affect all NUJ members working for these Johnston Press titles. Staff are already under enormous pressure and losing dedicated and hard working journalists will only make the situation worse.

The NUJ believes this puts the quality journalism of these great titles at risk. The union is opposed to management's introduction of Atex simply as a way of slashing journalists' jobs.

Elsewhere within the group, the introduction of the software has been done at breakneck pace in order to speed through redundancies. With inadequate training and support in place, major problems have arisen in production and the quality of newspapers reduced, sometimes with howlers that leave the company exposed to ridicule.

It has also meant journalists having to work punishing long hours and with stress levels soaring as journalists struggle to cope with frustrating glitches in the new system.

A number of high profile examples of the errors produced through the still unproven Atex system have emerged. In June, the free weekly Bedford Times and Citizen front page said "headline headghgh" and "strapline for main story like this if needed".

The Sheffield Star is the paid-for daily newspaper in Sheffield and had a front-page expose that was covered with solid black boxes disguising a dozen wanted men. The South Yorkshire Times has appeared with a blank hole in its pages.

The NUJ wants to embrace new technology that enhances quality journalism but we do not support the manipulation of technology to put our members on the dole and harm the quality of what our members produce with professionalism. Destroying quality journalism also treats the readers with contempt.

Management want to cut jobs so they can maintain profit levels, they have already rushed to embark on the redundancy consultation process.

The NUJ is now calling on management to look at all of the possible alternatives to redundancy prior to any proposed job cuts.

Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands Organiser, said:

"We have had plenty of opportunity to see Atex introduced into other Johnston Press newsrooms. In many it has been a disaster, only mitigated by our members' sheer professionalism to get the paper out.
"We will not tolerate the cack-handed introduction of Atex in Leeds that threatens to force journalists out of work and leave those who remain under intolerable pressure. Our members will need to be fully convinced that the system does what the company says it can do and that they have access to the best training and support.
"They are not willing to pay the price with their health and family lives so the company needs to work with our members rather than seek to maximise cost savings too quickly."

Tags: , atex, newspapers, cuts, yorkshire post, yorkshire evening post, johnston press, regional newspapers, bedford times and citizen, sheffield star, leeds