Newsquest agrees to negotiate with staff on eve of 14-day strike at south London weeklies

Newsquest South London newspapers COLLAGE

Journalists on a group of weekly newspapers in south London have postponed a 14-day strike due to start tomorrow after publisher Newsquest agreed to come to the negotiating table.

Talks are due to be held between management and journalists overseen by ACAS today.

The action is part of a dispute over staffing levels, workloads, pay, health and safety and a drop in the quality of local journalism, according to union members.

It also follows the company’s announcement that 27 out of 29 members of editorial staff at the Sutton office are at risk of redundancy as 11 jobs are set to be cut.

The titles and websites affected include the Croydon, Epsom, Sutton, Wandsworth and Wimbledon Guardians, the Richmond & Twickenham Times, the Surrey Comet and the News Shopper in Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham.

National Union of Journalists  general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Newsquest management must come to the table willing to engage in meaningful talks, with a genuine commitment to find a constructive way forward.

“This latest wave of cuts at the south London titles is a killer blow to quality journalism. Deep concern from politicians of all hues shows just how serious the situation is for local democracy.

“The NUJ will be entering these talks in good faith and Newsquest will further strengthen the chapel’s resolve if it is not prepared to reach a compromise.

“The situation at south London has also exposed that contrary to Newsquest refusing national talks with the union because local areas are autonomous, it is central management pulling the strings. Chief executive Henry Faure Walker must stop this charade.”

A “work to rule” policy has also been suspended while the talks continue.

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