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Ballot called as newspapers abandon northern towns

25 November 2008

NUJ members at Newsquest North East have voted unanimously to hold a ballot for industrial action to fight cuts across the group.

Last week, managers in Darlington announced a pay freeze, the closure of five district offices and the axing of 50 jobs – 17 in editorial.

More than 50 NUJ members attended a chapel meeting last night and voted to hold the ballot as soon as possible so any action could be taken before the redundancies kick in on January 1, 2009.

People who volunteer for redundancy will be told by December 5 if their applications have been accepted. The NUJ chapel is totally opposed to compulsory redundancies.

The Darlington Newsquest centre publishes the daily Northern Echo, the Darlington and Stockton Times, the Durham Times and the Advertiser series of free papers - employing just over 100 editorial staff. The five district offices to close are Stockton, Redcar, Barnard Castle, Richmond and Thirsk.

Trinity Mirror is also freezing wages and cutting jobs in the North. Its Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough will close district offices in Stockton, Redcar and Guisborough. There will be five editorial job losses.

The Newcastle Journal, also owned by Trinity Mirror, is axing 23 jobs and closing offices in North Shields and Durham.

Chris Morley, NUJ northern regional organiser, said:

“We are seeing a wholesale withdrawal of local newspapers from communities across North-East England. The companies seem to have given up on these towns – but NUJ members are determined to stand up for jobs and to stand up for journalism."

The NUJ is convening a joint meeting of reps from Trinity Mirror, Newsquest and Johnston Press chapels on November 29 to co-ordinate action against cuts across the country.

Tags: , newsquest, trinity mirror, newspapers, regional newspapers, cuts, pay freeze, industrial action, redundancies, darlington, northern echo, darlington and stockton times, durham times, advertiser series, evening gazette, newcastle journal, johnston press