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Six leave London titles as publisher reaches deal with union

Unions and bosses say they have reached agreement over planned cutbacks by a regional publisher which led to an 11-day strike by journalists.

Newsquest and the National Union of Journalists say they have come to an amicable solution over a proposed restructure of the former’s newspaper titles in South London, which includes an agreement to pay trainee reporters the London Living Wage.

While it is understood five journalists have worked their last day for the company today, along with one made redundant during the strike, the overall the number of roles lost is understood to be less than the 14 originally proposed.

NUJ members at titles including the eight-edition South London Guardian series, the Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet and the Richmond & Twickenham Times walked out last month over the plans.

Newsquest South London journalists during the strike

Newsquest South London journalists during the strike

They returned to work a day before the strike was due to finish, amid talks between the union and Newsquest.

Journalists at the company’s News Shopper series, in South-East London, also went on strike for two days in support.

Among those understood to be leaving the company are News Shopper’s news editor and deputy news editor, Dan Keel and Mark Chandler, as well as Croydon Guardian chief reporter, Robert Fisk.

During the action, those on strike 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.

Newsquest’s initial plans published in May placed 14 senior roles at risk of redundancy as a result of a plan to merge operations across South West and South East London.

Although three new posts were set be created and 11 vacancies available within the company’s structure, many staff who stayed on were likely to face the prospect of a pay cut.

Gary Kendall, managing director for Newsquest South London, said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement acceptable to both sides which satisfies our commitment to provide high quality editorial content for our print and online products in the future.”

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, added: “We are obviously pleased that an agreement has been reached and trainees will now be paid the London Living Wage in future.

“We do, however, remain concerned that the staffing level is too low and we will be monitoring the situation in the run up to the agreed three month review.

“In reaching this agreement I would like to pay tribute to our members who showed real commitment to local journalism and their readers.

“The chapels would like to thank and acknowledge all the support they received from NUJ members and chapels, local MPs, councillors and London Assembly members and readers.”