The NUJ says Sunderland journalists have voted to oppose any attempt to force through the management plan, which means switching production to Yorkshire, through compulsory redundancies. The union says "many of the journalists had moved to Sunderland from outlying offices only last summer, and the group now expects them to turn their lives upside down again just nine months later."
An industrial action ballot at Johnston Press titles is taking place this month over the introduction of an Atex content management system. The union claims that Atex threatens jobs and the quality of local journalism.
NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: "Although our members knew that the Atex system was coming to the North East, the scale of the impact on jobs and lack of time to come to terms with the implications has shocked them to the core.
"How Johnston Press can proclaim with a straight face that they 'publish local newspapers and internet sites produced by local teams of people' when they shift production of newspapers more than 160 miles south from Northumberland to Yorkshire is beyond me.
"More importantly, we fear it will be beyond the local communities who will undoubtedly pick up on the fact that much of their local paper is fashioned outside the North East.
"Johnston Press has the Atex juggernaut rolling throughout the group and expects its journalists to be panicked into deciding in a matter of a few weeks whether to uproot completely, apply for lower paid redeployment or leave with a redundancy package in despair at what will remain. Our chapel in Sunderland has made it crystal clear that they will oppose totally anyone being forced or bullied out the door."