'Enfield nine' return to work but dispute set to rumble on

Striking journalists at Tindle Newspapers‘ Enfield division finally returned to work yesterday with no resolution to the dispute yet in sight.

The first of two three-day walkouts by nine NUJ members began on 19 April and – because of the two bank holiday weekends – the workers, who have referred to themselves as “the Enfield nine” have not been back since.

The dispute centres on claims that Tindle is refusing to guarantee existing staff will be replaced and that three reporters and a news editor have been left to produce nine weekly newspaper editions.

Tindle issued a letter on the first day of the industrial action warning of possible redundancies at Enfield.

Tindle today released a statement that said: ‘During the strike all the papers were produced by the remaining staff and management with as much editorial if not more than a normal bank holiday week.”

That was dismissed by Enfield father of the chapel Jonathan Lovett, who said claims there was more editorial content over the last two weeks were untrue.

‘I bought a copy of one of the papers during the strike and the newspaper vendor said he was embarrassed to sell it to me,’he said.

‘It was a mix of press releases, cut-and-paste jobs and stories that were done weeks ago, and was littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.”

Lovett said the next step was to set up a meeting between Tindle management and the NUJ, but admitted he and his fellow NUJ members faced an uncertain future – and did not rule out the possibility of further industrial action.

‘Tindle is a funny beast; I’ve never met a company like it,’he said. ‘We’ve received very little word back from them about their intentions and it’s very difficult to gauge what will happen next.”

Commenting on the threat of redundancies from Tindle, he said: ‘Whether that’s a threat or whether there’s more in it remains to be seen.’

Lovett isaid that Enfield staff had been inundated with support from journalists across the UK and overseas.

‘People think strike is a dirty word but we’ve shown it’s not actually a bad thing; it can be a positive experience in terms of the support you can get,’he added.

In last week’s Enfield Advertiser, Tindle ran the following statement on its front page: ‘Nine journalists of this newspaper who are members of the National Union of Journalists remain on strike for a second week so this is the second edition produced by the remainder of the staff and management.

‘The dispute is about the paper’s non-replacement of staff leaving by natural wastage in this recession and is despite the company making huge and unsustainable losses.

‘The group is the only one so far not to make journalists redundant in the downturn. That meant non-replacement of those who left for other jobs. We hope this edition is both local and acceptable to you, our readers.”

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