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Johnston Press journalists ready to act

3 March 2010

Hundreds of journalists at the Johnston Press Group have shown they are ready for industrial action to defend jobs and standards at their publications.

A consultative ballot of members of the NUJ in the midlands and north of England found that an overwhelming 87 per cent of journalists voting were prepared to take industrial action over the changes management wants to make to their working practices. They were also determined to resist any future threat of compulsory redundancies by the company.

Local NUJ leaders are due to meet later this month to consider management's response to developments so far.

The company is introducing a 'content management system' with reporters writing into templated pages, which mean some stories going straight to page, or direct to the printing process, without the work being overseen by sub-editors for checking and other purposes.

Chris Morley, NUJ northern and midlands organiser, said:

"There is a huge strength of feeling among members that this new editorial system is ultimately about cutting jobs and they will not stand back while colleagues are picked off for compulsory redundancy.
"With all previous cutbacks already having an adverse impact on journalists' workloads, our members demand that any changes are carefully managed to avoid unacceptable stress levels and retain quality content."

Jenny Lennox of the NUJ's negotiating team added:

"This issue is about protecting jobs in the newspaper industry. Our members are also deeply concerned to protect the production of quality journalism: that means ensuring that the information which newspapers and publishers provide to local communities has been subjected to a rigorous checking process so that the highest professional standards are maintained.
"Our members at Johnston Press are saying that they are prepared to stand up for journalism in the public interest. We know that readers will support this position."

Tags: , newspapers, atex, industrial action, ballot, local newspapers, quality journalism, johnston press