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Sheffield journalists to strike against Johnston Press

7 February 2011

Journalists at Sheffield Newspapers will strike this week over management plans to halve the number of production jobs at the Johnston Press 'editorial hub' in the city.

The two day strike, involving 57 NUJ members, will begin on Wednesday.

The decision to take strike action follows a ballot in a dispute about potential loss of jobs for both employees and freelance contracts, inadequate consultation and inadequate redundancy payments.

The NUJ's National Executive Council on Friday called for all lawful support from colleagues in solidarity with members at the Sheffield Newspapers Chapel of Johnston Press.

The hub produces pages for a range of Johnston Press titles in Sheffield, Doncaster, Chesterfield and North and Mid Derbyshire and South, West and North Yorkshire.

The company has been pushing its proposals through at a breakneck pace in an incredibly aggressive manner. Hub members had to apply for their own jobs and go through an interview before they were told if they were successful or not.

Redeployment to other jobs has been offered but many of those who were not chosen have no experience of reporting and a lot of the jobs are on basic starter grades. That means people are facing a very real threat of compulsory redundancy.

In addition, most of the "vacancies" on offer are in fact jobs presently done by freelances on month-to-month contracts for whom the union is currently fighting for permanent jobs.

John Toner, NUJ national freelance organiser, said:

"We would be grateful if freelances found themselves unavailable to work on strike days. Freelances who have already agreed to work on those days are not expected to break their contract."

Chris Morley, NUJ organiser in the North of England, said:

"The decision to strike was taken at an exceptionally well-attended meeting of our NUJ chapel.
"Journalists had held back for some time from taking industrial action, but they have reached the stage where they have had enough from a management which has acted arrogantly towards our members and the community they seek to serve.
"The company has refused to give our members the reasonable guarantees they need; we believe management must now sit up and take notice."

Tags: , strike, redundancies, johnston press, cuts, sheffield newspapers, newspapers, local newspapers, yorkshire, sheffield, doncaster, derbyshire, chesterfield