The NUJ confirmed in a statement last night that it has been forced to call off industrial action planned across the Johnston Press group tomorrow and re-ballot 550 members at the group.
As revealed yesterday, Johnston Press went to the High Court on Friday afternoon to block the planned action, arguing that it doesn't employ any journalists directly and the union should have informed each of it subsidiary publishing companies about the action.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear says in the statement: “Johnston Press plc closed the group-wide pension scheme. Johnston Press plc imposed the group-wide pay freeze. Johnston Press plc imposed the group-wide introduction of the ATEX content management system. Yet Johnston Press plc has worked hard to ensure that under the anti-trade union laws, we are forced to have a dispute not with it, but with each and every one of its wholly owned subsidiaries. It is patently unfair and the law is an ass.
"NUJ reps across Johnston Press are angry the company has put so much effort into challenging the legality of the ballot instead of trying to resolve the issues which give rise to this ongoing dispute -- the under-resourcing of newsrooms, the health and safety concerns over ATEX, and more besides.
"The NUJ will now re-ballot members in each centre and each chapel. Johnston Press members in Scotland will also be balloted following the company’s refusal to rule out compulsory job cuts. Following the ballots any resultant action will be coordinated across the whole group. In the meantime the NUJ will continue to seek talks and meaningful negotiation with Johnston Press management, and resolve the outstanding and pressing group-wide problems that exist throughout the titles."