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Striking journalists return to work

Journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers who have been on indefinite strike action since 15 July will return to work today.

The National Union of Journalists announced today that a unanimous ballot had taken place to allow for the start of negotiations with the Johnston Press owned company.

Reporters at four papers – the Doncaster Free Press, Epworth Bells, Selby Times and South Yorkshire Times – had been on strike for eight weeks over 18 proposed job cuts at the titles, office closures, increased workloads and declining newspaper standards.

The company has confirmed that the reorganisation is now complete.

During the strike, editor of the South Yorkshire Times, Jim Oldfield received his notice of redundancy, as did sports editor of the Doncaster Free Press, Peter Catt.

Jim, who caused controversy when he carried a story about Johnston Press’ plans on the front page of his paper, is currently in the process of appealing his redundancy.

Selby Times reporter Martin Herron, said: “We have offered the company several opportunities to talk and been rebuffed.

“However SYN have now agreed that we can return to work without cancelling any further industrial action.

“Given that, we feel it is in everyone’s interest –  the readers’, the company’s and our own – to return to work to allow talks to begin.”

He added: “The chapel is still very much united and we hope we will be able to find common ground with the company which will lead to an improvement in working conditions and in the quality of the newspapers we produce.”

The chapel has not ruled out the possibility of further industrial action.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: “I am delighted that common sense has prevailed at South Yorkshire Newspapers and meaningful negotiations will start with the chapel. We have wanted talks all along and we hope they will be positive and constructive.”

Johnston Press confirmed that the SYN NUJ Chapel has informed the company of its intention to return to work on Thursday, 8 September.

John Bills, Managing Director, said: “I am pleased that the NUJ Chapel has decided to return to work, enabling us to continue the consultation and communication process. 

“In the meantime, those at risk of redundancy have been informed of the outcome and the reorganisation is now complete.”

28 comments

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  • September 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm
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    The strength these reporters have shown in standing up to short-sighted bosses is incredible.
    It is good, though, to see that SYN bosses have finally agreed to what they should have many, many weeks ago and entered into negotiations.
    I hope the bosses approach negotiations seriously – recognising that their talented journalists are united and have support up and down the country.
    http://unemployedhack.wordpress.com/

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  • September 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm
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    Hang in there guys. Right now, JP thinks it’s won – don’t let it get away with it

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  • September 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm
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    Sorry to be the party crasher, but am I right in thinking they’ve gone back to work having achieved nothing, apart from the vague promise of talks?

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  • September 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm
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    So eight weeks of slagging off the company and defaming the editor, and then they all walk back in and carry on as if nothing’s happened. They should be sacked, the lot of them.

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  • September 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm
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    Nice to see JP has finally commented on a story thanks to Mark!

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  • September 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm
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    Not JP Hack’s, just a former journalist who has been following this story from the start and thinks the strikers should all be thankful they have jobs at all instead of wingeing and trying to bring the company to its knees. They want to be thankful they still have a company left to come back to.

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  • September 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm
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    They are going back having achieved absolutely nothing except showing themselves up by the way they have behaved.

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  • September 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm
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    Mark – if everyone who was unhappy with poor treatment by their employer just put up and shut up, we would still be putting our children down coal mines or up chimneys. Thankfully, there are still a few people who are willing to make their voices heard.

    Congratulations to those journalists who have been on strike for so long, you have shown that at least some honorable men and women in our profession are willing to stand up to those who seek to strip newspapers of their best assets – the journalists.

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  • September 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm
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    ‘Should be thankful they have jobs.’ Well, thank you for the long hours, crap money and lack of respect, but please let me know when you would like your bottom wiped, master. And there was I thinking journalists are reasonably bright people. ‘Mark’ and ‘Disillusioned’ are either Johnston Press plants or feeble satirists, but we have serious problems if they represent the standard of debate over pay, staffing levels and editorial quality in the regional newspaper industry. Well done the SYN journalists.

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  • September 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm
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    ‘Mark’ and ‘Disillusioned’ (I guess it’s pretty clear who you really are, but far be it for me to start naming and shaming).

    The majority of people would be pleased to see an end to this dispute, and hopefully a way forward. Indeed most people would be glad of a return to normality after all the disruption. We’ve generally had a good relationship with our colleagues from other departments, and many have wished us well, and continue to do so. I would hazard that most of our co-workers will be pleased by the results we have achieved.

    I’m not entirely sure why you choose to maintain these ill feelings, and obvious sour grapes, but frankly your disjointed and ill-mannered comments reek of petulance and peevishness. If you have nothing constructive or positive to add to this article, then I would thank you to remain silent, keeping your poison tongue to yourself.

    For everyone else who has continued to support our cause through these difficult times, thank you one and all.

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  • September 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm
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    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
    Theodore Roosevelt

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  • September 8, 2011 at 9:58 am
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    As someone who has in the past supported – and endured – what proved to be a pointless and lengthy strike and ended with no real gain apart from a realisation that the NUJ is a Fisher Price union at the best of times, I hope that all those involved realise that the battle may be over but the real unpleasantness is only about to begin. Check back in six months and see how many of those bold strikers are still working in their current jobs – not through any action by the company, but because they feel so awkward at working again with people they have been cruelly abusing and who slogged through it to keep the paper – and their positions – open during their misguided adventure that they want to move on and make a new start elsewhere. That may not be possible, of course, because of the state of the economy so the poison cloud will be over that office for even longer. It’s not a victory, it’s a fudge, they’ve gone back before the strike crumbled and they’ve got nothing to show for it but a bigger overdraft.

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  • September 8, 2011 at 11:02 am
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    A bit of an embarrassing climb down from the strikers/union. What a complete waste of time. They have achieved absolutely nothing apart from humiliating themselves.

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  • September 8, 2011 at 11:13 am
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    Your crystal ball appears to be malfuntioning Paper Boy, meanwhile those of us not blessed with the gift of second sight will await the outcome of negotiations before deciding whether or not the NUJ have ‘achieved anything’

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  • September 8, 2011 at 11:54 am
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    I, and many others who have been following this dispute, salute you all, wish you all the very best in negotiations, and are ready to lend any support which you might need in the future.

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  • September 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm
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    The correspondent calling himself Mark is typical of the person intent on killing off what is left of the newspaper industry.
    He believes in lowly paid staffs, grovelling to the bosses and being ever so grateful for their daily bread.
    enjoy your Dickens, Mark.

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  • September 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm
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    @StillOnStrike, Doncaster

    I wonder who YOU might be?

    Why is it that someone who disagrees with militant strike action has a poisonous tongue? Are you Gaddafi in disguise?

    When I graduated from University, I knew that I could earn more money project managing for Eon, but I chose to join the ranks of the press in the hope of making a difference to my local community, albeit for less pay.

    So for me to then go out on strike bemoaning my pay packet would surely make me look like a prized plank?

    If I were the boss of this lot, I couldn’t trust them to work for me after this. I’d sack the stinking lot of ’em, and pull in some well-meaning, well-educated, hard-working new blood who would rather be paid £19.5k as a senior reporter for Newsquest, JP, Archant et al, than be paid £25k for answering the phone at a faceless energy supplier, say.

    As for KellyC, whose rosy view from her ivory tower is one where coal miners and chimney sweeps are relics of the Jorvik Viking Centre: there are still coal mines employing hundreds of miners (and yes, some of them straight out of school) and there are STILL Cockerney chimney sweeps – so leave off ’em.

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  • September 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm
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    It appears that I’ve had most of my comment removed, presumably because I used the words “malicious, anonymous, grovelling lickspittles” about some of the contributors, and said that such comments from Roosevelt’s “cold and timid souls” would have assured the chapel unequivocally of the justness of their cause. I hope that this comment, which makes the original anonymous targets even more anonymous, will be acceptable to all guardians of a free yet robust press.

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  • September 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm
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    voice of experience wrote:

    “because they feel so awkward at working again with people they have been cruelly abusing and who slogged through it to keep the paper – and their positions”

    Riiiight…. you mean those work experience kids and strike breakers brought in to put out the paper in their absence?

    The W.E.Ks get eight weeks’ experience in a newsroom, and the strike breakers eight weeks of paid work.

    … or maybe you’re talking about the bosses with their attractive company packages and inflated salaries?

    Yep, that’s some real ‘cruel abuse’ right there. I’m almost ready to bring out the violins.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:43 am
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    A Strike Breaker or Scab is a member of the union who chooses to work – Not an innocent person who has no wish to be a member of the union, or get involved in it’s actions. I think it is about time that somebody pointed this out.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm
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    In the interests of accuracy I will provide you the Wikipedia definition of a strikebreaker:

    “A strikebreaker (sometimes derogatorily called a scab) is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who are not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired prior to or during the strike to keep production or services going. “Strikebreakers” may also refer to workers (union members or not) who cross picket lines to work.”

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  • September 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm
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    To the “Former New of the World Employee”:

    What is the “New of the World”?

    And why did you lose your job?

    Perhaps you sacked because you couldn’t spot glaring and basic typographical errors in your work?

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  • September 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm
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    Given the absolutely parlous state of the newspaper industry, I’m not sure that I would strike. I might be happier to keep my head down and wait for the storm to pass. Not as brave as some of the commenters above

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  • September 13, 2011 at 9:30 am
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    Problem solver – you missed my point. Clearly there are still such things as miners and chimney sweeps. However, as I said, I don’t think we still force children to work in these professions, do we?

    And ‘ivory tower’? I come from three generations of miners. Doh.

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  • September 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm
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    Lawrence Shaw

    “Perhaps you sacked”

    Clearly you make glaring and basic typographical errorrs too!

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  • September 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm
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    Ever heard of a little word called IRONY Hacked Off?

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