Regional publisher Newsquest has agreed to talks with union representatives after strike action was taken by journalists at a regional daily.
Managers at the Southern Daily Echo have agreed to meet with representatives of the National Union of Journalists after the chapel called off the second of two 48-hour strike it had planned over the company’s continuing pay freeze.
But editor-in-chief Ian Murray said the wage freeze remained in place and was not up for discussion at the meeting, which has been scheduled for 29 November.
He said: “In response to the NUJ’s request for a meeting, management wrote to the NUJ stating it was prepared to meet and listen to their views and suggestions.
“However, as a clarification, the wage freeze remains in place and is not a matter for negotiation during these talks which are scheduled to take place on Monday, November 29, nor is the closure of the final salary pension scheme.
“Management remains open to listening to other issues the members may raise, but it was the NUJ’s decision to call off the strike and request a meeting and it is for them to come forward with any new points for consideration having exhausted previous avenues of discussion.”
Journalists from the title walked out for two days earlier this month over the continuing pay freeze by Newsquest, after attempts to negotiate a pay settlement which had been going on since spring.
But the union called off the second strike it had planned this week in the hope management would enter into talks.
Union representative David Brine said: “It is a step forward but we simply don’t know until we hear what they have got to say whether it is positive or not.
“We will go into it with an open mind. It is what we asked for before we took the strike action.”
David said the meeting would include local and national NUJ representatives who would meet with Newsquest Hampshire chief executive Stewart Dunn and the editor.
Newsquest has been under fire from the NUJ in recent months over its continuing pay freeze and job cuts.
And journalists from Brighton’s The Argus started a 48-hour strike today in protest at plans to centralise its subbing operation in Southampton, with the loss of five posts.
Earlier this week, the NUJ said ballots for industrial action would also be held at Newsquest centres in Blackburn and the North-East of England.