Tag Archives: industrial action

Newsquest: An update on the reported pay freeze thaw

There have been several reports this week that a long-standing, group-wide pay freeze at Newsquest has shown signs of thawing. Journalism.co.uk has reported extensively on the National Union of Journalists’ (NUJ) campaign against the pay freeze and the series of strikes that have taken place at Newsquest titles in the past few months.

So has the pay freeze been lifted? Unfortunately, it’s not as straightforward as that. Here’s what we know:

  • An NUJ update and official has confirmed that a 2 per cent pay increase has been offered at some Newsquest centres;
  • The centres that have been confirmed so far are Bradford, York and Darlington;
  • The NUJ has not yet returned our calls to confirm what centres, if any, in the south or Scotland have been made an offer;
  • Journalism.co.uk has learned that in the current offers, no move to backdating pay has been included;
  • The date from which a pay increase would take place – if the offers are accepted – depends on each centre’s “pay anniversary”, a date agreed between NUJ chapels and management when new pay or holiday settlements would be introduced.

A step in the right direction – but there’s more to come on this story…

Brighton Argus’ new out-of-town subs fall at the first hurdle

Today is the first day that local title the Brighton Argus has been subbed from Southampton, following a controversial move by publisher Newsquest to centralise news subbing operations and lay off the paper’s Brighton-based subs.

And today’s edition brings with it a typo perfectly emblematic of the staff’s complaints that local papers need subs with local knowledge.

From today’s BRIGHTEN Argus…

NUJ: Southern Daily Echo chapel to ballot for strikes over pay freeze

Members of the National Union of Journalists at the Southern Daily Echo are being balloted again by the union for more strike action, in an ongoing dispute over a pay freeze at Newsquest.

Around 75 per cent of editorial staff have already taken part in two 48 hour strikes at the title in Southampton. Yesterday Journalism.co.uk reported that members felt a decision by the paper to give extra pay to staff who did not take part in the strike action would provoke further action.

NUJ: More strife for Newsquest as four more NUJ centres vote to strike

Protests at Newsquest-owned titles across the country continue this week as members of the National Union of Journalists at four more centres vote in favour of strike action.

According to a release from the NUJ today, members at Newsquest Blackburn, Bradford, Bolton and York have all voted for indsutrial action.

The new votes follow two days of strike action carried out by members at the Brighton Argus and Southern Daily Echo this week, the second round of industrial action for both titles.

Union members are taking action against a continuing pay freeze, redundancies and closure of the pension scheme to future accrual.

More than 90 per cent of members at Newsquest Bradford voted in favour of strike action in a recent ballot while all voters supported action short of a strike, the release adds.

All NUJ members who took part in the ballot at Newsquest Blackburn have voted overwhelmingly for strike action and action short of a strike. NUJ members at Newsquest Bolton have also voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

… NUJ members at Newsquest York today voted overwhelmingly for strike action and action short of a strike.

According to the release the newspaper titles within these centres includes:

  • Newsquest Bradford – Bradford Telegraph & Argus, Ilkley Gazette, Wharfedale & Airedale Observer, Craven Herald and the Keighley News.
  • Newsquest Bolton and Newsquest Blackburn – Bolton News and the Bury Times Group weekly series (the Bury Times, Radcliffe Times and The Guide covering Prestwich & Whitefield) and the Lancashire Telegraph, Burnley Citizen, Blackburn Citizen, Chorley Citizen, Bury Journal, Bolton Journal and Westmorland Gazette.
  • Newsquest York – the Press and the Gazette & Herald.

NUJ members at Newsquest Warrington as well as members at the Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times in Scotland have also voted to ballot for industrial action.

The NUJ parliamentary group this week launched an Early Day Motion in support of NUJ members at Newsquest, calling on the company to “enter into meaningful discussions with the union at all levels to resolve the disputes by protecting jobs and investing in journalism”.

Jon Slattery: ‘You can slice the salami only so many times,’ warns ex-Argus man

Former Brighton Argus deputy editor Frank le Duc guest posts on Jon Slattery’s blog about the recent strikes at the Argus and other Newsquest titles, and about the challenges facing regional publishers from new local competition.

The difficulty for companies like Newsquest is that their profits are not coming from a resurgence in advertising revenues but a ruthless cutting of costs.

Newsquest has used a salami-slicing technique which has its limitations. You can slice the salami only so many times before there’s no meat left.

Full post at this link…

Brighton Argus: Twitter account and strike blog boost picket line protests

Today journalists from the Newsquest-owned Brighton Argus took to the picket line for the second day of strikes, in protest at plans to relocate their subbing operations to Southampton and the loss of seven jobs at the title.

The strike action on both days went beyond the picket line in Brighton, with campaigning staff using social media to spread the word. The group produced a Twitter account @argus_strike, posting videos, pictures and comments throughout the action.

There was also a Argus strike blog set up in the lead up to the action, featuring information on why the staff were striking, campaign links as well as vox-pops with readers. Web editor Jo Wadsworth even called on the title’s community correspondents to support the action by not crossing a virtual picket line, and postponing any submissions to the site until the weekend.

The sub-editors made redundant say they were originally told today would be their last day, but told Journalism.co.uk yesterday they may be asked to work on for another two to four weeks to help with the movement of production down to Southampton.

Members of the National Union of Journalists, local politicians and other supporters stood outside the offices in the south-east town, with the number of journalists estimated to reflect around three quarters of the editorial team at the picket’s peak.

Journalism.co.uk produced this video report, speaking to members of the union and those losing their jobs.

NUJ members ballot for strike at north-east Newsquest titles

National Union of Journalists members across a series of Newsquest-owned north-east titles have started to ballot for industrial action against proposed redundancies and a continuing pay freeze, according to a report from the union.

Members at Newsquest Northeast, which includes The Darlington and Stockton Times, Durham Times and the Advertiser series, have also unanimously passed a motion of no confidence in the chief executives of Newsquest and Newsquest’s US parent company Gannett.

In the NUJ release, the union’s Northern and Midlands organiser, Chris Morley said the proposed loss of eight jobs in the region is the “final straw” for staff:

The proposed redundancies spell disaster for the titles. It is a short-sighted policy that will result in lower quality and readership declining, as editorial staff are stretched ever more thinly.

Staff are shocked at Newsquest’s preparedness to jettison so many of their most valuable assets – experienced, dedicated staff who have been responsible for the success of the titles. We are not prepared to stand by and allow Newsquest to press ahead with their plans for staff redundancies and, ultimately, business suicide.

Tomorrow NUJ members at the Brighton Argus, also part of the Newquest group, will start a two-day strike in response to job losses at the title and the relocation of its subbing operation to Southampton.

NUJ prepared to suspend BBC strikes after new talks offer

The National Union of Journalists says it is prepared to suspend the second 48-hour BBC strike it has planned for 15 and 16 November, after the broadcaster offered new talks in the ongoing pensions dispute.

In a press release, the union said the BBC must first withdraw disciplinary action against three of its members overseas, claiming they were disciplined after supporting the strike action which took place on Friday and Saturday last week.

Jeremy Dear, the NUJ’s general secretary said the union welcomes “the BBC’s change of heart”.

We will enter those talks determined to seek a negotiated settlement. But we remain committed, and authorised, to take further industrial, political and legal action in the event that talks fail to deliver a fair pensions settlement.

In a statement Lucy Adams, director of BBC People said she also welcomes the NUJ’s decision to “lift the threat of strikes”.

This is good news for the licence fee payer. While the BBC cannot afford to reopen the pension reform deal agreed with the majority of staff, we have agreed to meet with the joint unions, including the NUJ. In that meeting, we will discuss points of clarification raised in a letter this afternoon from Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary of BECTU and the leader of the joint unions at the BBC.

BECTU members apply to NUJ in order to join BBC strikes

Leading activists from the media and entertainment union Bectu have decided to leave and instead apply to join the National Union of Journalists so they can take part in planned strike action at the BBC over pensions, according to the Workers United trade union blog.

The four – until today members of the BECTU audio and music branch committee – explained their decision to colleagues across the corporation in a 1,500 word email.

Journalism.co.uk reported last week that members at BBC staff unions, except for the NUJ, had voted as a majority to accept the latest proposals. The NUJ’s members however voted to reject the proposals and as a result fresh strike dates were set. The first 48-hour walkout is due to start on Friday.

Hatip: Jon Slattery