Strike plans prompt fears of a winter of discontent

By Jon Slattery

The regional press is facing another winter of discontent over pay as journalists threaten industrial action.

This week the NUJ chapel that last year staged the first regional news paper strike over pay for 10 years voted to repeat the action after rejecting a 2 per cent rise.

Journalists at Newsquest Bradford, which includes the daily Bradford Telegraph & Argus and weekly titles, have named six dates for strike action. They are planning to walk out next Thursday and Friday, and again on 10, 11, 19 and 20 February.

There will be picket lines outside the company’s offices in Bradford, Shipley, Otley, Keighley, Skipton and Ilkley.

The Bradford chapel has asked for a £2,000-a-head rise.

Journalists at Newsquest Bradford were the first to win back union recognition under the Labour Government’s Fairness at Work legislation in a ballot in May 2000.

NUJ members on Newsquest weeklies in Kendal and Lancaster have also voted to take industrial action over pay. The newspapers involved are the Westmorland Gazette and the Lancaster Citizen.

The NUJ says the average wage of its members working on the titles is around £17,000. The pay rise offered to journalists is 1.5 per cent.

NUJ members at the Birmingham Post and Mail, part of Trinity Mirror, have voted by 61 to 38 in a consultative ballot to reject a management pay offer of 2.5 per cent.

The Post and Mail chapel has already voted to take part in a national ballot for industrial action across the Trinity Mirror group in protest at its decision to close its “final salary” pension schemes to new staff. The chapel at the News & Star, Carlisle, this week also voted to take industrial action on pay.

NUJ northern regional organiser Miles Barter told Press Gazette: “Regional journalists I have met at chapel meetings across the country feel undervalued.

“It is not just in terms of pay, it’s the hours they have to work and the way they are treated.”

Jon Slattery

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