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Newsroom 'brought to a halt' in pay and pensions protest

The National Union of Journalists is claiming that the newsroom at the Carlisle News & Star and Cumberland News came to a standstill at peak production time on Monday, with a two-hour mandatory chapel meeting in a row over pay and pensions.

It says all members on duty attended the 8.30am meeting at parent group Cumbrian Newspapers’ Carlisle headquarters. Some 48 staff attended, leaving management to put the finishing touches to the completed edition.

CN Group chief executive Robin Burgess confirmed the meeting took place, adding that all papers were published as normal.

The stoppage was the first industrial action taken in a long-running battle over the closure of the CN Group final salary pension scheme, although talks through conciliation service ACAS are scheduled for Thursday.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern organiser, said chapel members backed the two-hour disruptive meeting, with some coming in on days off and others travelling from branch offices to register support.

He said: “Without a fresh offer with new money on the table on Thursday, the chapel will have to consider what other forms of industrial action will have to be taken to make bosses realise how much they mean business.

“The company should also bear in mind that if we cannot strike a proper deal with the help of ACAS this week, members from the two other chapels in the group will also be in a position to take action.”

Union members say not enough has been done to compensate them and that they are also unhappy about a three per cent pay rise, saying it has been a pay cut in real terms because the new pension scheme requires more contributions and more national insurance payments.

Last month chapel members voted 86 per cent in favour of strike action, but declined to call any action until after the ACAS talks.

  • Sister CN Group chapels at the Whitehaven News and the North West Evening Mail in Barrow have voted in favour of industrial action and are currently considering what action to take. Do you have a story about the regional press?
    Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or e-mail:
    patrick.astill@and.co.uk