MP slams Johnston Press management

Johnston Press managers have been slammed by a Leeds MP as staff at the city’s two papers return to work today after the biggest regional newspaper strike in the UK in quarter of a century.

Elmet MP Colin Burgon visited pickets outside the company’s Leeds building to support more than 140 journalists who had walked out protesting against compulsory redundancies and cutbacks threatening the quality of the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post.

Johnston Press executives have recently cut the Evening Post from five daily editions to two and moved printing from Wellington Street in Leeds to Dinnington in South Yorkshire.

Mr Burgon said the Edinburgh-based company should not ignore the cultural and democratic implications of such cuts as well as the importance of committed journalists.

“When the paper shuts down or it functions ineffectively, it means that the vast majority of my constituents … simply lose touch with events both at local and the more important national story,” he said.

“The Yorkshire Evening Post is a community paper in the widest sense of that word and any loss or damage to that paper is bad news for local people.

“Johnston management: listen to my every word. What I’m saying to them really is that the value of the workers in producing this newspaper cannot be undervalued and they must always remember that.

“Without the workers committed to the newspaper, as most journalists are, then you’ll never have a good newspaper.”

The legally-required ballot produced a 97.3 per cent vote in favour of action. The journalists plan to walk out for another four days starting when Thursday begins if management have not opened negotiations by then to try to settle the dispute.

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