Union president visits picket line

NUJ president James Doherty is today due to visit journalists who have walked out of work at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post in Leeds in protest at cuts which will reduce their ability to cover the region and city and compromise the papers’ integrity.

Mr Doherty, 34, is one of the union’s youngest presidents and he has worked for the Edinburgh-based Johnston Press company at The Scotsman. Although he now lives and works in Glasgow, he was born in Yorkshire.

The journalists were due to walk out just after midnight on the second of two four-day strikes. They face compulsory redundancies which will further reduce the papers’ quality. Johnston Press have also offered settlements which are less than they have paid at their other titles, including the Evening Courier in nearby Halifax.

Over 18 months, nearly 40 posts will have been lost from the two papers. The Yorkshire Evening Post was last year cut from five daily editions to just two and printing moved from city centre Leeds to Dinnington in South Yorkshire.

In a message to the Yorkshire journalists, James said: “The years of profiteering and mismanagement at the hands of Johnston Press have put these titles at risk, while our journalists and the quality of the products suffer.

“Although based in Scotland, I was born in Yorkshire and understand the place these titles have in their communities. The message is clear: It is time for these vultures to go.”

James will be followed by current union vice-president Pete Murray, also from Glasgow. He’ll be on the picket line before addressing a chapel meeting at the BBC in Leeds to rally support for the action.

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