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Strikes draw to a close: Papers publish as planned

Two strikes at a series of newspapers in Lancashire and Yorkshire were drawing to a close today.

Editorial staff at Newsquest’s Kendal centre were back at work after a four-day stoppage by National Union of Journalists members looking for an improvement on their 2.5 per cent pay offer.

And NUJ members at the Bradford Telegraph & Argus and its associated newspapers – also owned by Newsquest – were spending their last day on the picket lines after a whole week away from their desks in pursuit of a £1,500-a-head rise.

Talks were held with the management at Bradford on Wednesday, and the union chapel has responded to the progress made and expects further talks shortly. Both sides have agreed not to reveal their discussions outside their meetings.

  • New dad and Craven Herald striker Duncan Smith at Skipton with colleagues from Bradford (Pic: NUJ)
  • Managing director David Coates said: “We’ve produced some excellent newspapers and published all our editions as normal – although that’s hardly a surprise with two-thirds of our journalists working normally.”

    He said the walkout involved only a third of journalists at Newsquest (Bradford), adding: “I would like to place on record our sincere thanks to all staff who have ensured that it has been business as usual this week.

    “I feel some progress has been made in our negotiations with the NUJ and talks are continuing.”

    A handful of strikers returned to work during the dispute but NUJ staff were picketing newspaper offices at the Telegraph and Argus, Keighley News, Ilkley Gazette, Craven Herald and Wharfedale Observer.

    In the meantime a further ten days of strike action have been agreed, on dates to be announced.

    Regional organiser Miles Barter said those taking action had received a positive public reaction.

    He said: “The 40 remaining on strike are absolutely solid. The public has taken a great interest.”

    In Kendal the Westmorland Gazette, Lancaster and South Lakes Citizens and Westmorland Messenger are affected and senior Newsquest executives were brought in to ensure the newspapers published as usual.

    Editor/publisher Mike Glover said: “The Westmorland Gazette has provided a service to the people of South Lakeland and surrounding areas for 185 years – we are not about to let that service be interrupted.

    “We have repeatedly pointed out to the journalists that uncertainty over world, national and local economies means this business has to maintain costs at a realistic level. The other 70 staff at The Westmorland Gazette accepted this with good grace.”

    Talks between the Kendal/Lancaster management and the NUJ have been going on since before Christmas.

    As well as the two-and-a-half per cent increase, journalists have been offered a deal giving a minimum monetary amount to help the least well paid.

    Do you have a story about the regional press? Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or