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FT shows solidarity with 30 June strikes 30 June 2011

Posted by Donnacha DeLong in disputes, events, NUJ.
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Our day of action began with messages of solidarity sent to the picket line outside the HSE headquarters in Southwark, where about 20 PCS pickets were distributing leaflets and stickers to passers-by. We took stickers to hand out in the newsroom.

At lunchtime, committee members set up a stall in the canteen and gave out leaflets highlighting the NUJ’s support for the national day of action, with one person taking away a membership form to fill out. At a lively and well attended chapel meeting in the afternoon, the FT chapel addressed issues of “crisis management” in the newspaper industry and in the country as a whole.

Steve Bird, FT Group chapel FoC, said: “The government is stumbling from one policy fiasco to the next. As soon as the reality of the cuts becomes apparent, it provokes anger and opposition. Unions need to be part of every fight against these unjust cutbacks, just as we oppose bad management in our workplaces.”

Barry Fitzpatrick, head of the NUJ Publishing Department, praised NUJ members for standing up to redundancies and forcing concessions at Newsquest and elsewhere. “Even in the Thatcher years, trade unionists fought back. We need to follow the example of workers in Greece. When the stakes are high, mass union action is vital if we want to win,” he said.

The meeting went on to debate the dangers of performance-related pay – eroding collective bargaining, removing transparency over settlements and raising the possibility of discrimination in pay awards.

The meeting unanimously passed a motion calling to put a threatened redundancy into dispute if no compromise was reached before the end of the consultation period.

Barry praised the FT chapel as a great example of building strength and confidence in the union even when managers could sometimes be hard-nosed.

Steve Bird
FoC, FT Group Chapel

Newsquest strike resolved 30 June 2011

Posted by Donnacha DeLong in disputes, NUJ.
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Newsquest journalists in South London called off their strike this week after negotiating an agreement to resolve a dispute over redundancies.

NUJ chapel members voted to accept an agreement to replace vacancies occurring over the next six months and to retain two additional editorial positions to what was planned.

The 33 Newsquest journalists had opposed management plans which included axing the whole sports and leisure department (eight journalists) and making one commercial features writer redundant.

Staff returned to work at Newsquest offices in Sutton and Twickenham yesterday, ending a work to rule and calling off the last two days of a four-day strike, following negotiations which started on  Monday.

NUJ head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said:

The outcome of this dispute shows the need for management to work together with the NUJ to tackle the problems of the newspaper industry.

In this serious dispute with Newsquest, the group’s management has come to the negotiating table to reach agreement with the union. That reflects the impressive achievement of our NUJ chapel in recruiting so many journalists into the union, and then negotiating a settlement from a position of strength.

NUJ members at Newsquest in South London deserve our highest praise for their determination to see this dispute through to a satisfactory conclusion.

The NUJ is committed to the survival of local newspapers, but we need the co-operation of managements across the industry to ensure that.

The newspaper titles involved in the dispute were the Epsom Guardian, Elmbridge Guardian, Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Streatham Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Surrey Comet and Richmond & Twickenham Times.

And don’t forget the launch of the Stand up for local Journalism campaign in Enfield, North London, on Monday.

Newsquest South London on strike again 26 June 2011

Posted by Donnacha DeLong in disputes, NUJ.
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Newsquest journalists in South London are to take four more days of strike again this week. The strike begins tomorrow (Monday 27 June) and is due to end at midnight on Thursday 30 June.

The journalists’ are taking action due to a dispute with the company over redundancies and in support of quality local journalism. They took two days strike action just over a week ago, picketing Newsquest offices in Sutton and Twickenham.

Newsquest Guardian publishes ten titles, the Croydon Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Elmbridge Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Streatham Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Surrey Comet and Richmond & Twickenham Times.

NUJ negotiator Jenny Lennox said: “We’ve had a very successful two-day strike last week, and it is worth noting that a dozen journalists have joined the union since the dispute began. This reflects the deep anger which journalists employed by Newsquest at their bosses’ determination to avoid consulting with staff on the future of their papers.”

The NUJ strikers had previously adopted a unanimous vote of no confidence in their top management after a company decision to make an unspecified number of editorial staff redundant while the group’s titles continue to make substantial profits.

Follow the strike on the strikers’ blog and via their Twitter feed @ylgstrike.

Message to the branch from a grateful chapel 25 June 2011

Posted by Donnacha DeLong in disputes, NUJ.
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Jonathan Lovett, FoC at North London & Herts Newspapers, has sent the following message to London Central Branch following the resolution of their dispute with Sir Ray Tindle:

Thanks to branch members for their wonderful support received over the past few months in our dispute with Tindle Newspapers – finally brought to a conclusion a couple of days ago.

Ultimately, the result was a positive one which just proves that going on strike and standing up for yourselves does work. After the first wave of strike action – over two weeks in April involving a mass demonstration, funeral procession and addressing meetings up and down the country – we were on the verge of a second when a deal was finally struck.

As one of the clauses in the deal was not to “crow” about it (!), I won’t go into too much detail but just to say it was a satisfactory result which means we can go back to work with self-respect restored and a foundation for the future.

Support from across the country, Early Day Motions and questions in the house, besides another rock solid 100% “Yes” vote for strike action had seemed to focus Sir Ray Tindle’s mind and the hope now is that we can use this as a platform to push forward and return our papers to the quality, award-winning publications they once were.

Also, a word of praise for my colleagues, the bold “Enfield Nine” striking journalists who put principles and our readers before threats of redundancy and half a month’s loss of earnings. Respect is due.

We would also like to use our relative success as a small beacon of hope for other chapels up and down the country and urge everyone to attend the launch of the NUJ’s national campaign on Monday, July 4 to save local newspapers. It takes place five minutes from our offices in Enfield, starts at 6.30pm and more details can be found under the NUJ Active section on the NUJ’s website.

Yours in solidarity,
Jonathan Lovett.

Tindle newspapers dispute resolved 23 June 2011

Posted by Donnacha DeLong in disputes, NUJ.
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The dispute over staffing and quality in North London and Herts Newspapers has been resolved. The dispute in Enfield had centred on non-replacement of journalists at the Tindle newspaper group’s titles and led to a strike in April. The NUJ chapel had recently voted to take further strike action.

NUJ head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said: “I’m pleased that we have been able to hold genuinely positive discussions with management to resolve the differences between us. Both sides recognise that producing newspapers which serve local communities properly is a business requiring commitment from everybody involved.

“Happily, that commitment exists at North London and Herts Newspapers, helping us to resolve our dispute. We look forward to engaging in further discussions with management at an early date to consider ways to advance the interests of our members and the newspapers and communities they serve.”

According to the chapel’s strike blog, following a successful day of negotiations, Tindle has agreed to reverse its policy of non-replacement agreeing to a six month moratorium on present staffing levels – guaranteeing that if anyone in editorial leaves over this period they will be replaced. They have also agreed an extra reporter to work for half the week to help out with the current workload. The situation after six months will then be reviewed. Redundancy consultation notices issued to staff on the eve of their first walk out have been withdrawn.

FOC Jonathan Lovett said: “It has been a long, hard struggle but we are satisfied with the result and now look forward to working together with Tindle to ensure our papers are returned to the quality publications which our readers deserve. We have many ideas for the future of our papers and we look forward to sharing them with the Tindle management across the table.”

Jonathan Lovett will speak at the upcoming launch of the NUJ campaign to save local journalism.

This story has also been covered by:

Journalism.co.uk: Tindle Newspapers strikes deal with Enfield Nine, says NUJ
Hold the Front Page: Strike off as Tindle puts headcount reductions on hold
Press Gazette: Tindle resolves Enfield industrial dispute