England

Newspaper journalists call for industrial action ballot

Journalists at newspaper publisher Archant Norfolk have called for a ballot on industrial action in protest at company plans to cut up to 20 jobs.

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted unanimously in favour of the move.

They claim redundancies would damage the quality of titles including the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News.

The company has said it needs to cut costs in order to invest more in its digital operation.

Archant Norfolk, based in Norwich, also produces 10 weekly titles in Norfolk and Suffolk, including the Great Yarmouth Mercury, Lowestoft Journal and North Norfolk News.

Library to close

Journalists at the company began an informal work-to-rule last week.

Eighty employees have been told their jobs are at risk as the company looks to make redundancies.

It is proposing to cut the number of full-time photographers' jobs from 15 to 8.5 and reduce the number of feature writers by four.

Three jobs would go in its sport department and more than five would be lost in production.

Its two part-time librarians would also go and the company's library would be closed to the public.

Pete Kelley, NUJ father-of-chapel at Archant Norfolk, said: "Members have given their authority to seek a ballot on industrial action.

"We hope not to do it but we want to keep our options open because people are very angry.

"We feel we have cut back as far as we can if we're going to keep the quality of these much-loved papers."

'Cutting corners'

Staff representatives will be putting alternative proposals to management later this week.

In an open letter to bosses, the union said previous redundancies and the introduction of new working practices and computer software meant that quality was already suffering.

"Our readers have noticed. Complaints have escalated," it said.

"We've already cut corners. On these figures, there will be days when papers don't come out."

It added that over the past year, overtime had risen to become a health and safety issue and called the consultation process over job losses "shameful".

Archant Norfolk declined to comment.

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