Tindle Newspapers has warned journalists starting strike action today within its North London & Herts division of possible redundancies in the face of newspaper losses in the area.

As nine members of the National Union of Journalists take to the picket line in a dispute over the quality of the newspapers being produced, the NUJ's head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said the warning "can only make matters worse".

The nine striking members include the reporters, photographers and sub editors working on the region's titles.

According to the union letters were delivered to the staff last night, before the strike today, informing them of the company's position.

The journalists claim more than a third of editorial staff have left without being replaced and "key positions are not being filled" with just three reporters "churning out nine newspapers every week".

As a result the journalists say that an "inferior product" is being delivered to readers and advertisers.

"We are concerned that management is responding to a serious issue by making an apparent threat of redundancies at this late hour," Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

"This approach is not addressing the issues at the heart of the dispute, which are non-replacement of staff and the quality of local journalism. Certainly, management's action can only make matters worse."

The nine newspapers produced from the Enfield-based division are the Enfield Advertiser, the Edmonton Advertiser, the Winchmore Hill Advertiser and Herald, the Enfield Gazette, the Barnet and Potters Bar Press, the East Barnet Press and Advertiser, the Edgware and Mill Hill Press, the Hendon and Finchley Press and the Haringey Advertiser.

In a statement Tindle Newspapers said the rest of the group is currently supporting Enfield but added: "it is not possible for the group to continue to support the current level of loss.

"It follows that unless we are able to increase our profitability dramatically over the coming weeks, we will need to take action to make the papers profitable.

"We may do this by re-structuring the newspapers, which could potentially result in redundancies.

"If any such proposals are made regarding the future of the papers, we will be consulting with affected staff before a decision is made as to whether or not to implement these proposals."

During the strike action staff plan to dress as the Grim Reaper and act out a funeral procession in protest over "death by a thousand cutbacks".

Writing on a strike blog about the action last night father of the chapel Jonathan Lovett said staff did "everything we could to avoid this showdown".

"For nearly a year now we have been in negotiations with management over the situation here in Enfield.

"From a high point of seven reporters and two news editors a few years ago we now just have three reporters and one news editor covering a vast area of north London and part of Hertfordshire.

"We simply do not have the resources to carry on the way we are and there is no guarantee that if anyone else leaves they will be replaced either."

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