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Vote for strike by Newsquest papers in the North West

9 June 2014

Newsquest titles in the North West have balloted for strike action over the company's plans to move editorial production work to a subbing hub in Newport, Wales.

The journalists voted for industrial action because they believe the plan puts at risk editorial quality, will lead to redundancies and unacceptable workloads.

The titles affected include the Warrington Guardian and Northwich Guardian in Cheshire; the Sale and Altrincham Messenger, Trafford; the Wirral Globe in Birkenhead; the St Helens Star in Merseyside; Bolton News; Bolton Journal; Bury Journal; Bury Times and the Lancashire Telegraph.

The NUJ members in the Warrington chapel voted 93.1 per cent in favour of strike action and the Blackburn chapel by 83.1 per cent. Both also recorded the same figures for industrial action short of strike action.

NUJ members in York, Darlington and Bradford went on a one-day strike over jobs losses caused by moving editing to Newport earlier this year. At NUJ Delegates Meeting, Bob Smith, FoC of the Newsquest group chapel, said the hubs were becoming the equivalent of sweatshop call centres and were severing the link between newspapers and the local communities they were meant to serve.

Today's results are the first of five NUJ Newsquest chapels balloted. Chapels in London, Brighton and Southampton have also balloted on similar issues and on pay. The results will be published this week.

Chris Morley, Northern and Midlands organiser, said:

"NUJ members at the Newsquest centres in Blackburn and Warrington have shown from these very strong results that they are prepared to defend themselves and their colleagues by strike action if necessary. This should act as a massive wake-up call to directors.
"Our members have seen the calamitous results of the botched implementation of the new Knowledge system, the new editorial software which enables remote editing. This is all about the company's greed to cut costs and has badly affected working conditions and editorial quality. Our members in the North West are ready to take a stand to prevent the same damage being wrought on their journalism.

“Even at this late hour, we call on Newsquest to take a more measured approach to achieving its aims, so that its stable of valued and respected titles are spared further damage in the eyes of the reading public. Consultation with staff has been scant, a bare minimum of what is required, and none has taken place with the community which will be the ultimate judge on the company's plans."

The union is still waiting for a reply from Henry Faure Walker, Newsquest's chief executive, to a letter sent on 30 May calling for talks to discuss the dispute.

The chapel will be meeting to discuss the timetable and form of action.

Subbing hubs – the sweatshops of journalism
Strikers 'overwhelmed' by local support in North-east

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