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.