The National Union of Journalists has served notice on the Johnston Press Group in the Republic of Ireland in a dispute over threatened redundancies in a number of regional newspapers. Industrial action will begin next Tuesday.
NUJ members in the Limerick Leader the Leinster Leader, the Leinster Express, the Offaly Express and the Clonmel Nationalist voted overwhelmingly to participate in a 1 day work stoppage on Tuesday next, 23rd of November in protest at job losses arising from a new editorial production system, ATEX, which the union says will also undermine editorial quality in the newspapers.
Job cuts are proposed as a result of the new system, which Johnston Press management says will negate the need for sub editors. However the journalists believe that the system will increase the workload on those left behind. Many of those targeted for redundancy have long service with their respective newspapers, acquired by the UK based company during their expansion into the Irish market.
Nicola Coleman, NUJ Irish Organiser said: “This strike is about protecting employment but it is also about defending journalistic standards. The experience of this union in the UK is that the new system and reduced staffing levels have led to chaos – the results have been disastrous publications. Papers have been sent to print with pictures missing, wrong headlines and serious subbing errors. In one case the barcode was not printed so shops could not sell that edition. Some titles in the UK had to re-employ some casual staff following the cuts when newsrooms could not cope with the workload. NUJ members in Ireland are determined to protect journalists and newspapers here from a similar fate.”
Following ballots for industrial action at other Irish titles management created new posts, Content Editors, and agreed not to enforce proposed redundancies, thus averting the need for strike action
The NUJ have asked the company to remove all threats to jobs until after the ATEX system is introduced when staffing levels can be assessed properly. So far the company have refused. Talks are scheduled to take place in Naas on Friday next (November 19th).