Irish journalists vote against ATEX

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).

2 comments for “Irish journalists vote against ATEX

  1. Nov 27, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    In fairness, the Atex system is a reputable and reliable piece of kit for producing newspapers. Where problems arise, it is because of the lack of investment in tuning it so that it works with the other equipment in the production chain. If the that work is not done properly, you get problems like missing pictures. I’ve worked on a successful Atex installation, and I’ve known of others which drove people demented. Personally I’m a big fan. Atex is not the problem – managers cutting corners is.

  2. Nov 28, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I’ve never worked with it, so I can’t comment on how good it is as software. one thing I did hear was that there’s a lot of javascript involved, which can slow things down. combined with insufficient bandwidth over network, that could lead to serious delays during production.

    Most of the complaints I’ve heard relate to lack of training time and system slowness (which I suspect is because of bandwidth issues).

Comments are closed.