Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield

Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield

Johnston Press, the newspaper publisher of titles such as the Yorkshire Post and Lancashire Evening Post, is under fire from the unions again – this time over staff expenses.

Bosses have told staff who use their own cars to travel to jobs that they will only be able to claim 25p per mile rather than then standard HMRC rate of 45p.

In a letter to chief executive Ashley Highfield, members of the National Union of Journalists, asked the regional publisher to urgently reconsider a ‘unilateral and potentially unlawful decision’ the move.

A statement from the Johnston Press group chapel said there was a huge amount of anger among members throughout the company who are united in their opposition to these proposals.

Many NUJ chapels in local centres have already written to regional managing directors to object to the plans and some have voted to withdraw their own cars for business use.

The latest row comes just a month after the company announced that some of its North West-based photographers are set be made redundant under an ongoing review of the way photographic content is generated on Johnston Press’ regional newspapers.

The expenses row has already drawn criticism from media commentator Roy Greenslade. Writing at The Guardian today he calls it a ‘cut too far’.

“Wages for local and regional journalists are already poor, making the job less appealing for young people (who can earn much more in PR, for instance).

“If publishers genuinely want to attract good quality staff they need to think about the way in which they are gradually diminishing the trade’s economic status.”

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