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GMWN strike is called off

Industrial action at Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers has been called off by the National Union of Journalists.

The breakthrough came as 27 union members – around half the editorial workforce – embarked on the first day of nine consecutive days of action which could have hit coverage of local elections.

The polls are of special news interest because of the presence of several British National Party candidates.

The agreement follows a week of intense negotiations between the company and the NUJ and both GMWN and the union say they are happy with the outcome.

Company chief executive Mark Dodson said: “The past two weeks have been difficult for the NUJ and ourselves yet I believe that the new agreement has delivered a solution that will take us forward with a more open relationship.

“We have listened to the NUJ’s real concerns regarding low rates for trainees and they have understood our position on pay and procedures.

“This week has allowed us both to clear the air and move on.”

Father of chapel for GMWN (North) Andrew Lindsay said: “The agreement has addressed our most chronic concerns and the fight against low pay will continue throughout the industry.

“What began as a wake up call should now have mutually beneficial effects because of the more enlightened approach the company has taken.

“Both sides have agreed to adopt a ‘year zero’ policy and hope that industrial action will not be necessary in the future. Other firms could learn from this approach.”

The action had resumed yesterday after two-day stoppages in the past two weeks designed to hit deadline day at the weeklies.

The NUJ chapel was calling for a 7.5 per cent pay rise but was originally offered 2.5 per cent by the company although an improved offer – of better rates for juniors with no change on the 2.5 per cent for seniors – was rejected by journalists last week.

Under the new agreement some senior staff will be getting the original 2.5 per cent offered by the company but increases vary between that and an increase of up to 25 per cent for some juniors.

Click here for full pay details.

During the dispute there were also problems on whether the union was recognised by the company, but progress was made when GMWN confirmed that it recognised the NUJ for the purposes of collective bargaining. Full recognition has now been restored.

The company’s northern division comprises the Rochdale Observer, Heywood Advertiser, Middleton & North Manchester Guardian, Rossendale Free Press, Accrington Observer, Oldham Advertiser, Rochdale Express, Moston, Middleton & Blackley Express, Salford Advertiser, Prestwich Advertiser.

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