Newsquest 'blacklists' freelances

By Dominic Ponsford Freelance photographers who supported striking journalists say they have been blacklisted by Newsquest Bolton.

In April and May this year, 60 journalists on newspapers including the Bolton Evening News and the Bury Times went on strike for five weeks over pay.

The dispute was settled in June but four photographers who supported the strikers by declining work say they are now being punished for doing so.

Management at Newsquest Bolton declined to comment.

Father of the NUJ chapel at Bolton, Dave Thomson, said: “We have challenged management on this. They say they were taken off the freelances’ list for commercial reasons because they were having a review of the photographic department.

“But as far as I’m concerned, they have been deliberately targeted by management. This has worrying implications.”

Thomson said the chapel had voted to give each photographer a one-off payment of £500 from its own funds.

One of the freelances affected is Paul Simpson, who said that before the strike, he relied on the Bolton Evening News for about 20 per cent of his income.

“My career started with the Bolton Evening News as an apprentice at 14,” he said. “I recently came back to the area and have had regular work from them since May last year.

“I decided to support the strikers’ bid for better pay and I’ve been told that I’m on a blacklist. When I spoke to the chief photographers at Bolton and Bury, they said they had been told not to use me because I had supported the strike.

“I think we should do something if we can as NUJ members and ask that freelance photographers throughout the country have a boycott of Newsquest.”

NUJ officials are currently considering whether to take further action on the matter.

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