Journalists on the Northern Echo are being faced with a stark choice by employer Newsquest – move 270 miles away to Newport in Wales or else lose their jobs.
Some 29 sub-editing jobs across Newsquest’s newspapers in Darlington, York and Bradford are set to move to a subbing hub in Newport.
Press Gazette understands that staff at all three centres have now begun balloting for industrial action in protest against the plan.
All of the 11 sub-editors on the Daily Echo have been told that their jobs are moving to Wales. Three new production jobs are being created at Darlington.
Those sub-editors who don’t want to move are being offered statutory redundancy terms of one week’s pay per year of service, or one and a half weeks for those over 41.
Sub-editing of Newsquest’s Darlington-based weekly newspapers moved to a regional subbing hub in York two years ago. The latest move will see that hub closed down and jobs moved again.
A spokesperson for Newsquest’s NUJ chapel in Darlington said: “We are concerned about the loss of jobs and the fact that if our existing journalists don’t move down to Newport Newsquest will get new graduates to do the job. It could spell disaster.
“People here are very unhappy and upset. Morale is as low as it has ever been.”
The Northern Echo sold just over 35,000 copies a day in the first six months of 2013.
The other daily newspapers affected by the latest subbing hub plan are The Press in York and the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.
Press Gazette contacted Newsquest for a comment and were invited to email chief executive Paul Davidson, which we have done. He has yet to respond.