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12-day strike by journalists due to start

Union members at a Yorkshire newspaper company were today due to walk out for a 12-day stoppage over pay after rejecting a two per cent offer from the management.

Editorial staff, who are part of the National Union of Journalists, have already spent 17 days away from their desks in protest at the deal being offered from Newsquest Bradford, which publishes the Telegraph & Argus, Keighley News, Ilkley Gazette, Craven Herald and Wharfedale Observer. Colleagues in Bolton and Bury are also on strike in their own two-day dispute.

Management are promising that newspapers will be published as normal.

The union has some support in parliament, with 53 MPs signing an Early Day Motion – a parliamentary petition – calling on the newspaper publisher to make a realistic pay offer to the striking journalists.

And Government minister Chris Leslie, responsible for the fire service, wrote to Bradford managing director David Coates, saying: “I am aware that the Telegraph & Argus is a successful newspaper and is part of a very profitable media group, so I am somewhat at a loss to understand why this offer cannot be improved given the need to avoid further strike action and also to address the relatively low rates of pay in Bradford.

“I hope you will give full consideration to improving the offer that has been made so this current dispute can be settled as soon as possible.”

Newsquest (Bradford) said publication of the T&A and its sister titles would continue as normal this week.

Managing director David Coates said: “They have taken 17 days of action so far without disrupting or affecting any of our titles or editions and all they are managing to do is further alienate the majority of their colleagues who are working normally.

“They are clearly setting out to cause the maximum disruption with the least possible inconvenience to themselves: their latest ’12-day’ strike has been timed to fall across two weekends and two bank holidays while most of those taking action will lose only six days’ pay.

“It’s a great shame that a minority of militant staff are able to disrupt the lives of the majority of their colleagues who have made it clear they do not agree with their actions.”

The union says the company makes a profit of £23,000 a day and can afford more for its staff.

Members of the NUJ at Newsquest’s Bolton and Bury titles have also held two days of strike action and were planning to walk out again today and tomorrow, also over pay.

Fifteen MPs have signed an Early Day Motion in support of journalists there.

Titles affected include the Bolton Evening News, Bolton Journal, Bury Times, Bury Journal, Leigh Journal, Prestwich & Whitefield Guide and the Radcliffe Times.

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