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Former strikers ‘confident’ over negotiations

Journalists who went on strike for eight weeks at South Yorkshire Newspapers say they are optimistic about the way talks with management are progressing.

Members of the National Union of Journalists working for the Doncaster Free Press, South Yorkshire Times, Selby Times and Epworth Bells took to the picket lines on 15 July over job cuts and increased workloads implemented by the Johnston Press company.

They returned to work on 8 September after suspending their indefinite strike to allow for negotiations with the company.

As a gesture of goodwill they called off a mandatory chapel meeting that was due to be held on Friday.

A chapel spokesman said: “We always wanted to negotiate with the company and made several offers to do so during the eight weeks we were out on strike.

“Talks have begun and we are cautiously optimistic at the way they are progressing.”

The spokesman added that he hoped the company would take the cancellation of the meeting in the spirit of reconciliation in which it had been made.

On returning to work the journalists said further industrial action had not been ruled out and criticised the standards of the papers in their absence.

They balloted for industrial action after the company announced proposals to restructure staff at the newspapers, resulting in job losses.

The reorganisation is now complete and saw the editor of the South Yorkshire Times, Jim Oldfield being made redundant, along with Peter Catt, the sports editor of the Doncaster Free Press.

Johnston Press did not wish to comment.