Blackpool journalists plan next stage of action against Atex

Workers rebel against a new content management system which union claims will bypass sub-editors.

Journalists at the Johnston Press-owned Blackpool Gazette and Herald will step-up their protest by holding a mandatory chapel meeting and working to rule on Monday.

The move follows a vote earlier this month for industrial action over subbing cuts which could result from the introduction of the new Atex technology and a refusal by members of the National Union of Journalists to take part in training related to the new system.

The ballot followed what union members said was management's "failure to consult meaningfully" over the technology which will enable reporters to input their stories straight on to the newspaper page.

The union claims the new system will also result in stories appearing in print without being overseen by sub-editors.

Plans to introduce Atex at Johnston Press centres in the Midlands and north of England also brought threats of region-wide industrial action from 13 NUJ chapels this month.

Earlier this month, Darren Russell, managing director of Blackpool Gazette & Herald, told Press Gazette the newspaper group was committed to consultation on Atex.

He said: "Having noted the outcome of that ballot we will continue to discuss the impact of the new editorial content management system.

"We are committed to meaningful consultation with staff and this process has not been exhausted. Any industrial action taken by the Blackpool NUJ will not benefit anyone."

Oliver Luft writes for Press Gazette.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.