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Pay offer scuppered strike bid, union reps admit

Union representatives have admitted that a 2pc pay offer to journalists at some Newsquest centres helped scupper plans for a co-ordinated strike across the company this week.

Two-day walkouts over pay and redundancies began yesterday in Brighton and Darlington, with journalists there joining those at the Southern Daily Echo who had already started a three-day stoppage.

The National Union of Journalists had hoped for a wider protest across Newsquest after chapels at a number of other centres voted for strike action last month, including Bradford, Bolton, Blackburn and York.

But pay offers of 2pc made to some chapels before Christmas, along with the difficulties in organising strikes over the festive period and hopes of negotiations with management, have been cited as key reasons why many did not join the walkout.

Bob Smith, father of chapel at Newsquest Bradford and the UK-wide Newsquest group chapel, said: “Many of the chapels decided to ballot for industrial action back in November and early December.

“Since then the company has moved so we have had offers of pay rises in a number of the centres after almost three years of pay freezes so I think that has been a big factor in swaying members of the chapels.”

He said some centres had different pay review dates so that may be why not all had received offers.

Other factors in the decision included the withdrawal of a compulsory redundancy threat at Newsquest Bradford and the difficulties of organising over the Christmas period, added Mr Smith.

David Thomson, father of chapel at Newsquest Bolton and Bury, said the chapel had decided to call off its planned 48-hour walkout the day before it was due to start.

He said the decision was made after neighbouring chapel members in Blackburn decided on Wednesday to call on management to enter into ‘meaningful negotiations’ in the next two weeks.

Mr Thomson said: “Our chapel took a decision in the light of that as we do have a common management.

“We have gone along with Blackburn to call on management for genuine talks. We do reserve the right to take industrial action.”

As previously reported, journalists at the Newsquest-owned Herald and Times Group in Glasgow also called off a 48-hour strike which has been due to start tomorrow.

The decision came amid concerns of the potential impact of the action on this weekend’s relaunch of the Sunday Herald as a news magazine.

Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson had not responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.

7 comments

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  • January 7, 2011 at 10:02 am
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    Not bought ‘Anon’. Just need to start entering negotiations. Nothing to suggest that there won’t be action if the pay offer does not increase to a reasonable level.

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  • January 7, 2011 at 10:25 am
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    I know we need money, but surely the dreadful staffing levels are just as important. It’s not just Newsquest either; lots of publishers such as Trinity and JP are running at such low reporter levels that the papers are falling in quality. But the accountants who run papers simply don’t care.

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  • January 7, 2011 at 10:31 am
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    Knackeredatnewsquest is right. Now I can see the industry from the outside I see more mistakes, slopping writing. dreadful design, and obvious dropping in unchanged of press releases. Local papers have never been perfect, that’s the real world. But with reporters now being photographers, website writers, headline writers, admin clerks etc my friends tell me there isn’t a lot of time for research. I think papers can survive- but probably only on the back of lots of goodwill from staff.

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  • January 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm
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    hahaha @ exhealthwriter. I assume you don’t have English as your first language? Possibly some long-forgotten Anglo Saxon tongue?

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