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Derry Journal journalists to ballot for industrial action

28 January 2009

The NUJ chapel at the Derry Journal is to ballot over industrial action in response to plans to push through compulsory redundancies. Union members have vowed to fight in defence of their jobs and the integrity of the Johnston Press-owned title.

In a statement, the chapel said their paper had survived the Great Famine of 1845-52, but was under threat from the current mangement regime.

The statement said:

The Derry Journal chapel is to ballot its members on industrial action to oppose company plans to force through compulsory redundancies, affecting editorial staff at its Buncrana Road office.

The chapel has already indicated to management that any attempt to force through compulsory redundancies will be resisted.

Management threats to impose compulsory redundancies follow a pre-Christmas announcement by Jean Long, Divisional Managing Director of Johnston Press, which currently owns the Derry paper, that it intends to centralise the production function of all titles across the Northern Ireland division into a production centre in Portadown.

When the company announced the plans on 11 December last, it stated that 31.5 roles across the division associated with production were potentially affected by the change with an overall net reduction of 8.5 roles.

In the intervening period, 15 members of staff across Northern Ireland have been accepted for voluntary redundancy, yet the company is still intent on pushing through compulsory redundancies and still, up to 7 editorial posts at the Derry Journal remain under threat. Several of those directly under threat are members of staff who have devoted their entire career – more than thirty years – to the Derry Journal. Is this how loyalty is repaid under Johnston Press?

The Journal chapel strongly believe (and management have not disputed) that more job losses are likely to follow at the at the Derry Journal. The threatened compulsory redundancies at the Journal ios the latest in a series of swathing job losses at the Derry newspaper, since it came under the ownership of Johnston Press in 2006.

Since then, we have lost more than 50 jobs as one by one, printing, accounts and production jobs were moved out of Derry.

We are determined to fight to defend our jobs and the integrity of the Derry Journal and we hope there will be an overwhelming vote for strike action. We will be asking for support from fellow trades unionists, our readers, advertisers, and politicians locally and nationally.

The Derry Journal survived the Famine, but we fear it may not survive Johnston Press.

Johnstone Press journalists in Leeds are also balloting over job cuts.

Tags: , johnston press, derry journal, derry, newspapers, local newspapers, redundancies, cuts, portadown