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August 8, 2008

Sheffield Star makes five compsulory redundancies

By Press Gazette

Industrial action could be on the way at the Sheffield Star after management announced plans to make five compulsory redundancies and a string of voluntary redundancies.

At a National Union of Journalists meeting yesterday, journalists at the Johnston Press-owned daily passed a motion of no confidence in editor Alan Powell and pledged to fight the compulsory and voluntary cuts.

The NUJ chapel has already moved to begin a ballot on industrial action. Union members must be given the option to vote for either a walkout or action short of industrial action such as imposing work-to-rule conditions.

The union said today that the five staff have a combined 100 years of service at the paper. They are: picture editor Dennis Lound; Profile magazine and Star business editor John Highfield; senior production manager Richard Smith; Barnsley reporter Gail Robinson and Rotherham reporter Ray Parkin. They have been given a two-week consultancy period.

The NUJ also claimed that the papers’ offices in Rotherham and Barnsley will be closed. Johnston Press’s Sheffield Newspapers also produce the Sheffield Telegraph, Weekly Gazette, Journal series, Star Lite, Green ‘Un and Angling Star as well as thestar.co.uk and sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk.

NUJ mother of chapel Julia Armstrong said: ‘Feelings are running high and people are angry. We feel The Star is paying the price for Johnston Press’s greedy spending spree over the last few years and bad decisions taken by JP’s senior management.

“The company relies on the goodwill, loyalty and dedication of its staff who earn meagre salaries well below the national average wage.

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“Our staff have put in many dedicated years of service around the clock and during weekends and Bank Holidays – and this is how they are repaid.

“We believe the way to sell more newspapers is to invest in editorial content rather than employ a skeleton staff and we will fight these cuts.”

Star journalists are planning to write to MPs and other public figures in South Yorkshire to gain their backing and will circulate a petition to stop the cuts.

Star editor Alan Powell declined to comment but confirmed there would be “restructuring” of some departments.

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