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Improved offer rejected

A strike at a series of weekly newspapers in Manchester looks set to resume next week after an improved pay offer was rejected by the National Union of Journalists.

Union members have been on strike for two days a week for the past two weeks at Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers.

Next Tuesday will be the start of a nine-day stoppage if no solution is found to the deadlock.

Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers managing director Malcolm Doeg said an improved offer was rejected by the chapel late on Thursday.

He said: “The offer put substantial new money at the bottom trainee end of the scale, created a new grade six level and confirmed the 2.5 per cent pay offer for other staff.

“We are naturally disappointed that the offer has been rejected and hope that we may still talk to resolve this dispute.”

The offer would have brought the junior reporter starting rate to £13,060, up by some 20 per cent on some junior rates within the company. The second year rate would have been at £14,000, a rise of some £700.

But the sticking point is still over senior journalists’ pay, with an offer of 2.5 per cent on the table.

Twenty-seven members of the union, who number half the editorial staff, are preparing to walk out on Tuesday but the talks are continuing.

Mark Dodson, chief executive of GMWN said: “GWMN Ltd and its parent company GMG plc recognise the NUJ for the purposes of collective bargaining and intend to continue doing so.”

Northern regional NUJ organiser Mile Barter said: “The dispute is still on at the moment but things are looking more positive because both sides are talking.”

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, Asian News and Car Search, which are all affected.

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