Newsquest staff walk out over pay claims

NUJ journalists at Newsquest regional newspaper centres in Bradford and Kendal went ahead with strikes this week in support of pay claims.

At Bradford, where the union claimed 40 journalists supported the strike called for five days, talks were due to take place with management on Wednesday afternoon. The NUJ says that at Kendal 28 of its members backed a four-day strike.

Newsquest managements claimed the strike failed to disrupt production.

Bradford managing director David Coates said: “Publication of our titles will not be affected in any way by this action.

“It is extremely sad that a small minority of our staff have chosen to take this action, when the majority of our employees understand the difficulties facing the local economy and have already accepted our pay offer.”

Journalists at the Bradford centre, which publishes the Telegraph & Argus and a string of weeklies, have turned down a 2 per cent pay offer and are asking for an increase of £1,500.

At Newsquest Kendal, which publishes the Westmorland Gazette, the Lancaster & Morecambe Citizen and the South Lakes Citizen, the union has rejected 2.5 per cent and is seeking a 9.5 per cent rise.

Westmorland Gazette editor/publisher Mike Glover said in a message to readers on the newspaper’s website: “We have repeatedly pointed out to the journalists that uncertainty over world, national and local economies means this business has to maintain costs at a realistic level.

“The other 70 staff at the Westmorland Gazette accepted this with good grace.”

According to the NUJ, top editorial staff from across Newsquest have been drafted in to Kendal to get the newspapers out.

NUJ northern regional organiser Miles Barter said: “Both sets of journalists are very determined. When people read our leaflets they can’t believe how little the journalists are paid.”

lAt Cumbrian Newspapers, NUJ members on the Carlisle News & Star and Whitehaven News have voted in favour of strike action in support of a 4 per cent pay claim.

By Jon Slattery

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