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Nine-day strike announced

Twelve weekly newspapers in the Manchester area are facing the threat of nine consecutive days of strike action by National Union of Journalists employees, who number around half the editorial staff.

Twenty-seven members, who walked out at Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers’ northern division, were today on their fourth day of six originally targeted for action.

But the union chapel has upped the stakes by announcing a further seven days of strikes.

The development came as the company offered to recognise the union and open talks to solve the dispute.

Chief executive for the newspapers Cheshire and Lancashire division, Mark Dodson, confirmed the company had offered to talk with the union chapel.

He said: “We offered the NUJ chapel last night that in return for suspending their strike action we would be prepared to meet them directly and immediately to discuss their grievances in full.

“In addition we would be prepared to temporarily recognise the union for the purposes of settling the dispute and show our commitment to the process.”

He also confirmed that extra payments were being made to people who continued working, as the company sought to protect the business.

Journalists were already set to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday next week but the extra dates now cover the following seven days, making it a nine-day walk-out from Tuesday to Thursday.

Union organiser Miles Barter said: “We have held informal talks and the company said that if journalists suspended their action it would come up with a draft disputes procedure, which would give a framework for discussion.

“But the members want to talk to the management on pay and conditions rather than talks about talks.”

The 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, was affected.

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