Trinity's Coventry staff make their way back to work

By Sarah Lagan

After weeks of negotiations and 25 days of strike action,
journalists at Trinity Mirror’s Coventry newspapers went back to work
on Wednesday.

According to the NUJ, Trinity Mirror has assured strikers that their
concerns will be addressed in the next pay negotiations and the
Coventry NUJ chapel recommended that journalists return to work.

The
breakthrough came after negotiations including a private meeting
between NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear and Coventry Newspapers
managing director David Faulkner at which a four-point return to work
agreement was reached.

One of the points was, if staff returned
to work on Wednesday, the company would honour its commitment to bring
forward the implementation of the new pay structure from May to April
2006.

It was also agreed that no disciplinary action would be taken against a striker said to have abused a member of staff.

Dear
said: “Work has already begun behind the scenes to deliver
significantly improved pay and we are satisfied enough progress has
been made to suspend the current action – but it is vital we see
concrete results soon or further action may follow.”

Faulkner
said: “The company understands the concerns expressed by journalists
during this dispute. We will be happy to discuss them and to attempt to
address them as part of the 2006 pay round and the discussions over a
new competency-based pay structure.”

Around 43 out of 70
journalists from the Coventry Evening Telegraph and associated weeklies
have taken part in the strikes which were prompted when Trinity Mirror
imposed a pay rise of 2.75 per cent with £200 extra on minimum rates in
July.

The chapel abandoned its claim and instead asked the
company to “honourits promise” for a competency-based pay structure by
January, claiming Trinity had pledged it would be in place by April
this year.

Senior journalists working on the weekly Coventry
titles start on £14,000 a year and the starting rate for trainees is
£11,500 a year.

Mother of the NUJ chapel Barbara Goulden claimed:
“I still feel we have been treated badly. They have only agreed to
address the offer of low pay but we thought there’s no point staying
out over something that is not going to happen until April. We wanted
to give them a chance to show us they mean business.”

A Coventry
Newspapers spokesman added: “We are pleased that the dispute has been
resolved and that staff have agreed to return to work. We are committed
to ensuring the ongoing quality of our newspapers and the continued
success of our business, and we look forward to working with staff to
achieve this.”

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