Express set for first full-day national newspaper strike for 18 years

Journalists at the Express Newspapers in London and Preston are set to stage the first full-day strike on a national newspaper for 18 year tomorrow.

Express Newspaper comprises of the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday. The National Union of Journalists, which kicks off its Annual Delegates’ Meeting today in Belfast, held a meeting of 150 journalists at the group on Wednesday. They decided to go ahead with the first of three planned one-day walk-outs.

The dispute centres on a pay offer of three per cent which the union has rejected. The union claims the offer was made without proper negotiation and ACAS talks failed to reach an agreement.

Daily Express editor Peter Hill and Daily Star editor Dawn Neeson have both written personal letters to staff urging them not to strike. Hill said he and company executives were ‘taking steps to ensure the Daily Express comes out on time’and warned journalists against ‘being pushed into a futile action that will only hurt you and your family”.

An email sent to all editorial staff across the company said: ‘As most people are aware, newspaper industry costs continue to rise but revenues are declining and there is fierce, and expensive, competition for customers.

‘Therefore whilst we wish to give a pay rise, we are not in a position entirely to insulate our staff from the effects of the wider economy”

NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: ‘Our members are standing firm in their resolve to fight for a fair deal. This strike is about low pay and broken promises. It’s incredible that management at Express Newspapers are forcing their journalists into taking this action.

‘These papers, now more than ever, need properly resourced journalism, yet all the company has to offer is cutbacks and miserly pay. Over the last few weeks it has become increasingly apparent that the Express and Star don’t value their journalists. Our members have made it very clear that they will make a stand to ensure they get the recognition they deserve.”

NUJ President Michelle Stanistreet, a chapel representative at the Express, will be on the picket line tomorrow morning alongside a rota of least 50 other volunteers, before flying to Belfast to make her president’s speech at the union conference in the afternoon.

She said: ‘Management at the Express and Star both talk about how much they value their papers, yet the evidence suggests they primarily value them on balance sheets, without regard for the quality of their journalism. If the company really does value its newspapers, why isn’t it making the necessary investment in journalists?”

Daily Star father-of-chapel Steve Usher said the “door was open” for the company to make an improved offer, but that he had “seen no sign of that happening” over the past few days. “We’ve been very patient for five months for them to ome up with something and they’ve come up with nothing. Nobody wants the situation that’s happening here tomorrow and a good management would not have allowed it to escalate in the way it has.”

The NUJ said the last full-day strike at a major national newspaper was at the Daily Telegraph in 1990, when journalists went on strike over pay.

Express Newspapers could not be reached for comment.

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