The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called off planned strike action by members at Johnston Press titles scheduled for tomorrow after the publisher sought help from the High Court by claiming that it doesn’t employ any journalists, reports the NUJ.
Johnston Press spent enormous time and effort putting together a 600-page submission to prove that – despite the JP stamp on the pay slips of staff working on their titles; the JP company handbook issued to all staff; the Johnston Press plc intranet that publishes company-wide procedures including policies on grievance, disciplinary procedure and health and safety; despite the group’s claims in the annual report, in company bulletins and external publications that it employs 1,900 journalists and more than 7,000 employees – that JP “employs no journalists”.
The union will re-ballot 550 members at Johnston Press, who were due to strike in reaction to closure of a pension scheme, a group-wide pay freeze and the introduction of a new content management system.
Says NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear:
Johnston Press management’s claim that it employs no journalists would be laughable, did it not have such serious implications for industrial relations in the UK. It’s clearly part of an emerging trend amongst employers to derail democratically agreed industrial action by skilfully exploiting the anti-trade union laws. In this case, by creating a web of subsidiary companies set up as multiple employers, JP management has been able to argue at the High Court that our dispute around group-wide pay and the introduction of a new content management system across the titles is, in fact, a series of identical disputes with JP’s multiple subsidiaries.
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