Newsquest kicked off negotiations with staff in South London this morning – as NUJ members went on strike for the second time in the space of a month.
Mother of chapel Thais Portilho-Shrimpton claimed it was the first time senior management had agreed to negotiate with the chapel since it began working to rule on 15 April.
Thirty-three NUJ members will take to the picket line in Sutton today dressed as clowns – during the last strike on 15 June they dressed as cowboys and cowgirls and carried ‘wanted’ posters that claimed Newsquest was responsible for the “death of local journalism”.
They are protesting against Newsquest’s decision to cut nine editorial jobs and close its sports and leisure department.
Portilho-Shrimpton claimed: ‘The sports editor and one sports sub-editor have already been made redundant.
‘Two sports reporters have accepted positions which became available within the news teams, since, for instance, all three reporters from the Croydon Guardian have resigned in the last month and a half.”
She added: ‘Our chapel firmly believes that the decision to axe the entire sports and leisure department is seriously detrimental to the quality of the ten titles we produce.
‘Sports coverage, for instance, will be compromised without specialist sports reporters.
‘The chapel has also formally asked managers to consult with news reporters and subs about taking on the extra workload, but we have not received a reply yet.”
The affected titles are the Croydon Guardian, Elmbridge Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Streatham Guardian, Surrey Comet, Sutton Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian and Wimbledon Guardian.
Newsquest was unavailable for comment.