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STAFFING at a group of northern newspapers is at “crisis point” with some journalists starting their working shifts more than three hours early to cope with workloads, says the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
But bosses at the flagship Northern Echo and Darlington and Stockton Times, Durham Times and Advertiser Series plan to sack eight more staff — a fifth of the editorial workforce.
The NUJ is investigating potential breaches of statutory working time regulations and says workloads could cause health problems.
Individuals have been known to start a 9am shift at 5.20am in order to get all the necessary tasks done to deadline, the union said.
It warned that staff have individually clocked up 100 hours in lieu in six months with no prospect of getting the time back.
The newspapers are owned by regional publishing group Newsquest, which is itself owned by the aptly-named US conglomerate Gannet.
NUJ Northern and Midlands senior organiser Chris Morley said: “Members’ genuine concerns on this have been met first with silence and then body-blow news of more savage cuts.
"The conditions our members report are simply not sustainable for people to endure and, I believe, they are now potentially unsafe.
"Newsquest will again soon be publishing its annual report showing once again it is a profitable company exporting millions of pounds to go into US shareholders’ pockets.
"UK management must stick up for their employees and not put health at risk through an uncaring pursuit of unsustainable levels of profit to trigger their fat bonuses.”
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