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Striking journalists bouyed by widespread support

Striking journalists marched on York Minster to highlight their campaign as industrial action at The Press drew to a close.

The five-day walkout among National Union of Journalists members was part of their bid for a better pay offer.

They are describing the stoppage, which included the weekly Gazette & Herald as their “first wave” of action and say it was well-supported.

MPs, councillors, lecturers, actors and shoppers got behind the strike on its final day.

Selby MP John Grogan, whose constituency includes part of York and is covered by The Press, spoke to the strikers and gave his backing in person.

Former Press editor Dave Nicholson also backed the strikers, as have many other workers around the city.

A petition on fair pay has collected around 1,000 signatures and an America-based blog about Newsquest owners Gannet has been following events – illustrated with a picture of Oliver Twist asking for more gruel.

A parliamentary motion has been lodged calling on Newsquest to give its York journalists a decent pay rise. Early Day Motion 1639 has been sponsored by Labour MP John McDonnell, secretary of the NUJ’s parliamentary group.

Meanwhile, the strike fund is hovering around the £10,000 mark. They received £100 from the NUJ’s Newcastle branch as well as a £40 donation from a supporter in Tyneside and collections among the public. The NUJ’s own National Executive Committee has agreed to send £6,000.

Joint father-of-chapel Sam Southgate thanked all the supporters.

He said: “The support has been phenomenal. Many people have been amazed to learn how poorly paid local journalists are, and were shocked to hear that millions of pounds made in York were being sucked out of the local economy by Newsquest and their American owners.

“Donations and messages of goodwill have been flooding in from all over the country, and even as far afield as New York.

“The support from other employees at The Press, such as advertising staff and delivery drivers, has also been fantastic.

“The ball is now in [MD] Steve Hughes’ court – he must decide whether to listen to the people of York and pay their journalists a fair wage, or to continue pandering to the excessive demands of American shareholders.”

This is the first strike by journalists at The Press since 1978.

Management at Newsquest York had expressed “astonishment” at the strike action over the company’s three per cent pay offer for 2008, with an extra 0.5 per cent available for discretionary payments, saying it was looking increasingly attractive as the economic situation became ever more challenging.


Jan from Swindon (28/05/2008 14:07:16)
Go guys! I’ve just been made redundant from The (Newsquest’s)Swindon Advertiser after 8 years as an Ad Setter. Our jobs have gone to India. Hope you get your rise as Newsquest must have a lot of money in the kitty now!

supporter (29/05/2008 09:58:54)
Can I ask what the average wages for reporters taking industrail action is?