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Strike notice withdrawn at weekly title

Journalists at a weekly newspaper in Northern Ireland have withdrawn all threat of strike action after agreement was reached on a new procedure to deal with disputes.

Members of the National Union of Journalists at the Newry Democrat had planned a walkout last month after four production staff at the title were made redundant and their work moved elsewhere

However the stoppage was called off after the paper’s new owners the Alpha Newspaper Group agreed to negotiations with arbitration body the Labour Relations Agency.

And now the union has confirmed that the strike notice on the company has been withdrawn after agreement was reached on a new procedure to deal with collective disputes.

According to the union, the company has agreed not to implement a proposed electronic check-in scheme and has also agreed to create two new editorial staff posts in the newsroom.

However the talks failed to secure additional payments for the four staff made redundant following Alpha’s recent takeover.

NUJ Irish Secretay Seamus Dooley said: “The new agreement provides for involvement of the LRA and this is a welcome development. The NUJ chapel at the Newry Democrat remains determined to ensure that their rights at work are respected by their employer.”

However he expressed disappointment at what he called the company’s failure to “meaningfully engage” at the Labour Relations Agency on the issue of the redundancy payments for the four axed staff. Their cases are now set to go to a tribunal.