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More than 800 journalists plan action against cuts

6 February 2009

More than 800 journalists across Britain and Ireland are gearing up for industrial action to oppose job cuts and defend quality journalism.

From Derry to Surrey, NUJ members are holding the ballots required by UK law to authorise industrial action. The disputes involve national and local newspapers and magazines.

At Newsquest York, around 30 NUJ members have already taken part in two lunchtime work stoppages. They are meeting management on Monday to discuss their concerns about job cuts. The York chapel has given notice of lunchtime union meetings every weekday for the next fortnight as part of their campaign.

In Leeds around 130 journalists at Johnston Press-owned Yorkshire Post Newspapers have started a ballot for strike action after management said they wanted to make three compulsory redundancies and called for 15 volunteers. The chapel have been running a vote yes campaign that includes cartoons and posters on the newsroom partitions.

At the Derry Journal, the NUJ chapel has accused Johnston Press of doing more damage to the paper than was suffered during the Great Famine. Around fifteen journalists will start voting next week in a ballot for industrial action because the transfer of subbing to Portadown threatens seven jobs in Derry.

At Yattenden Group-owned Staffordshire Newspapers as well as at their neighbours at Midland News Association-owned Shropshire Newspapers, around sixty journalists have given notice of ballots to stop compulsory redundancies and cutbacks to papers and websites in a swathe of market towns from Oswestry to Swadlincote.

At Reed Business Information – based at Sutton in Surrey and central London – hundreds of magazine journalists start voting next Thursday in a ballot for strike action over compulsory redundancies and the merging of production desks on titles covering different subject specialties. The company publishes well known titles like Flight, New Scientist and Computer Weekly.

The RBI NUJ chapel plans to leaflet all the company's offices on the day the ballot starts to explain what is happening to colleagues. They also plan to hold surgeries in Sutton every lunchtime during the balloting period to answer questions from concerned members.

At the Indpendent and Independent on Sunday in London, 200 NUJ members are to be balloted after management pushed on with cuts after refusing to accept all the volunteers for redundancy in the editorial department.

At the Financial Times in London management have cut the number of compulsory redundancies they are after by two. However, the NUJ chapel, who held a successful afternoon protest last month, are not satisfied and have called a mandatory meeting for Thursday to consider a call for an industrial action ballot.

The action across the industry is part of a union-wide campaign against media cutbacks.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, said:

"Where members want to fight cuts with industrial action, the NUJ will support them in every way possible.
"Most of the companies we are in dispute with have taken hundreds of millions of pounds of profits out of the industry in the past few years without making any long term plans.
"Journalists and the loyal readers they serve should not be expected pay with job cuts and poorer quality publications and websites."

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