Journalists on strike in South London over job cuts will take to the picket line today dressed as clowns as negotiations with management take place.
The journalists working for Newsquest South London are at the beginning of a planned four-day stoppage which will see 33 union members striking at Sutton and Twickenham.
However talks with senior managers in a bid to rsolve the dispute were due to take place simultaneously this morning as the action got under way.
It followed a list of requests made on Friday by the National Union of Journalists chapel, though the nature of the requests has not yet been disclosed.
Mother of the chapel Thais Portilho-Shrimpton said they would dress as clowns to mirror the image of those making decisions. The union claims that this is the first time management has agreed to talk with them since they began working to rule on 15 April.
During a strike earlier this month they dressed as cowboys in protests at the company’s decision to axe the whole sports and leisure department and make a commercial features writer redundant, resulting in the loss of eight jobs.
Said Thais: “For the first time, senior management has agreed to negotiate with our chapel and talks are due to start on Monday at 9am as the strike action goes on.”
Added Thais: “Our chapel firmly believes that the decision to axe the entire sports and leisure department is seriously detrimental to the quality of the ten titles we produce. Sports coverage, for instance, will be compromised without specialist sports reporters.
“The chapel has also formally asked managers to consult with news reporters and subs about taking on the extra workload, but we have not received a reply yet.”
Newsquest South London titles are the Epsom Guardian, Elmbridge Guardian, Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Streatham Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Surrey Comet and Richmond & Twickenham Times.
A sports editor and one sports sub editor have been made redundant and two sports reporters have accepted positions which became available within the news teams. All three reporters from the Croydon Guardian have resigned in the last month and a half.
Managing director of Newsquest South London Roger Mills was not available for comment at the time of going to press.
As of Tuesday afternoon the journalists were still on strike and negotiations with management were ongoing.