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Local newspaper strike abandoned as journalists settle for 3%

Union members at the Milton Keynes Citizen have reached agreement with management at the paper, following months of negotiations and six days of strike action.

The Johnston Press-owned title had been hit by industrial action by the National Union of Journalists in January following a deadlock in talks over pay and concerns over the editorial quality of the paper.

A third session of strike action had been postponed pending talks. Union members wanted 3.5 per cent to reflect the increased number of titles being produced by reduced numbers of staff.

But journalists at the Johnston Press title have agreed to accept an offer of three per cent on 2007 pay, which will be backdated to April last year, in return for a commitment to begin immediate negotiations on 2008 pay.

Under the agreement, new starters and journalists lower down the pay scales can expect additional increases on top of the three per cent, according to a union spokesman.

An NUJ statement said: “The agreement includes the establishment of a working group to examine editorial quality.

“The group, which will include a mix of journalists and management representatives, will investigate what improvements are needed to maintain and strengthen quality journalism at the Johnston Press titles in Milton Keynes.”

NUJ National Organiser, Barry Fitzpatrick, said: “It’s vital that the new working group takes a serious look at what must be done to ensure the Citizen and its sister titles continue to offer the very best service to the people of Milton Keynes.

“Now that last year’s pay dispute has been settled, we’re looking forward to constructive negotiations on 2008 pay that will ensure journalists at the paper can continue to concentrate on what they do best: reporting the news rather than making it.”