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Journalists return to work early as strike ‘pauses for talks’

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Journalists who began a 12-day strike over job cuts have returned to work a day early so talks can take place.

Members of the National Union of Journalists at a number of Newsquest titles walked out on 18 June over cost-cutting proposals by the company which would see senior roles axed and 16 weeklies placed under a single managing editor in a restructure.

The strike was due to end tomorrow on 1 July but union members agreed to go back to work today to allow negotiations to take place.

The union said the strike had been “put on pause” and a meeting with management would take place this afternoon.

Newspapers affected by the strike include the eight-edition South London Guardian series, the Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet and the Richmond & Twickenham Times.

Union members from the News Shopper series also took part in the strike for two days, last Monday and Tuesday.

NUJ national organiser Laura Davison said: “The strike is on pause to allow talks to take place.

“We have agreed to continue negotiations with the management and hope we can reach a settlement. The strike was due to end on Wednesday 1 July, followed by a work to rule.”

During the strike, the journalists received support from a number of politicians who raised concerns about the impact it would have on local journalism.

These included London Mayor Boris Johnson, who was among those to sign a parliamentary early day motion on the issue in his role as an MP for Uxbridge and Ruislip South.

Support has also come from the leaders of a number of local councils who have written to Newsquest South London managing director Gary Kendall.

The letter was sent by Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis, Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis, Sutton Council leader Ruth Dombey, Richmond Council leader Lord True and Croydon Council leader Tony Newman.

It said: “We are writing to express our concern at the recent announcement by Newsquest regarding your restructuring, which we believe will lead to a reduction in locally based reporters and to a serious erosion of your important role in holding elected local politicians to account.

“As council leaders in south London boroughs, we very much value the contribution to debate that comes from our local newspapers.

“Although we do not always agree with them on every issue, we have also found your reporters to be both independent and challenging of our councils where required.”

A cross-party letter was also sent from members of the London Assembly to Newsquest, saying the cuts posed “a real threat to democratic awareness”.

Newsquest declined to comment.

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  • June 30, 2015 at 11:09 am
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    Newquest “declined to comment” on the “real threat to democratic awareness” it posed. That just about sums up the attitude of these bloated publishing corporations that seem to exist solely now to line pockets of shareholders and senior execs while there’s still cash in the industry. Let’s hope the returning strikers are offered something worthwhile – but I doubt it. The future is small and devolved, folks.

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