'Striking to defend quality journalism': Newsquest journalists begin 12-day action in South London

Journalists at Newsquest in South London have today begun their 12-day strike in protest at job cuts, staffing levels and pay.

Staff are this morning picketing outside Quadrant House in Sutton, South London.

They are calling for “a 3 per cent salary increase and changes to a major reorganisation affecting Newsquest titles in South London”.

According to an NUJ spokesperson, Newsquest did make an offer to the union last night at an Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service meeting but that this was "not enough".

Affected newspapers include the Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Balham and Tooting Guardian, Mitcham and Morden Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet, and the Richmond & Twickenham Times. The News Shopper series is also involved and has editions in Dartford, Lewisham, Greenwich, Gravesend, Bexley and Bromley.

Journalists working on Newsquest's South East London titles have also voted for strike action, which is due to take place on Monday and Tuesday next week.

The strike is in response to Newsquest plans which would see the South West and South East London offices merged.

The plans also, according to the union, put the posts of group editor, editor, deputy editor, assistant editor and news editor at risk.

Two senior sports journalist roles across South East and South West London will be replaced, under the scheme, with one content editor (sports).

The number of editorial assistants will be cut from two to one and the roles of online commercial content developer, deputy news editor, assistant news editor and chief reporters jobs are also at risk of redundancy.

There are said to be 11 vacancies within the proposed restructure for Newsquest South London. Those at risk of redundancy will be considered for six content editor (news) jobs, four reporter (news) jobs and one sports reporter job.  

The new structure was proposed to take effect from Friday 26 June 2015.

The NUj said it wants to achieve:

No compulsory redundancies and a workable structure that suits the needs of the company and members of editorial.

A halt to plans to move journalists further away from the communities they serve.

A written guarantee that the implementation of new organisational systems will not result in further restructures or redundancies.

Fair pay for Newsquest South London journalists including the London Living Wage for all reporters."

The South London Guardian chapel said:

Our papers hold those in power to account, provide a voice to local residents and fight the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in society. If local newspapers are not properly staffed, important stories will be go unreported and residents will be left in the dark.  

We are calling for Newsquest to invest in the communities it purports to serve. If you’re concerned about your local paper, please take five minutes to let the company know."

 

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