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Journalists to go on strike for two weeks at cuts-threatened weeklies

Michelle Stanistreet 1Journalists at a group of weekly newspapers threatened with up to 11 job losses have announced they are to hold a 14-day strike from next week.

National Union of Journalists’ members at Newsquest South London titles have voted to strike from next Thursday in their ongoing dispute staffing levels and workloads.

Earlier this month, Newsquest revealed plans to cut 11 roles from its 29-strong South London newsroom, with all bar two editorial staff at risk of redundancy.

The announcement of the planned strike action comes after NUJ members at the group began a ‘work to rule’ this morning.

Titles affected by the proposed action include the Guardian series in Croydon, Epsom, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Wandsworth and Wimbledon, the News Shopper series covering Bexley, Bromley, Dartford, Gravesend, and Greenwich, the Richmond & Twickenham Times and Surrey Comet.

The union says it is willing to meet Newsquest management to resolve the issues before the strike is schdeuled to begin, just after midnight on 6 October.

Michelle Stanistreet, pictured above left, NUJ general secretary, said: “Conditions are tough in the newspaper market, but getting rid of dedicated and talented staff, leaving those remaining with impossible workloads, is not the answer.

“A handful of reporters, with help from a few work experience students, cannot cover half the capital. This will damage the quality of the newspapers and websites and will have a knock-on effect on circulation figures.

“The huge response from local politicians and London Assembly members across the political spectrum shows they fear reduced news coverage will have a negative impact on local democracy and the holding to account of councils and local businesses.

“My members do not want to take this action, but they have been forced by a management which is intent on maintaining profit for shareholders at the expense of the health of its workforce.”

The strike announcement comes after the NUJ yesterday claimed five staff in South London had resigned since the redundancy plans were revealed.

The new structure will see all the South London titles come under a single managing editor, with a team of 12 reporters, four content editors and a web editor covering the patch.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: “It is heart-breaking to see ambitious and enthusiastic young journalists being thwarted by unacceptable hours, a content management system which is not fit for purpose and poor working conditions.

“These newspapers have let go people with many years of experience and now staff are voting with their feet and getting out. This is putting huge pressure on those who remain.”

HTFP has asked Newsquest for a comment.

7 comments

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  • September 29, 2016 at 11:38 pm
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    Maybe Henry and the top brass will listen at last otherwise their papers could have only ads and press releases in them for two weeks. Hopefully the local management get round that table and talk to resolve this mess.

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  • September 30, 2016 at 7:52 am
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    Superb, sometimes this still does work – best of luck to everyone involved, rooting for you.

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  • September 30, 2016 at 12:05 pm
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    I once quit a paper I loved because I could not bear to see such a shoddy product hit the streets, with so few staff and management not caring.
    Good luck to these people.

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  • September 30, 2016 at 12:57 pm
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    I remember the last time these guys went on strike and the papers had one news story in them, and it was the same story. Sales people probably love having only adverts without the editorial space

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  • September 30, 2016 at 2:11 pm
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    If the NUJ is as concerned about local democracy as it says it is, then it is about time it mounted a national campaign to open a public debate so that those outside the newsroom can see what is happening.
    Who knew that junior doctors were so unhappy until the dispute over the imposition of a new contract forced their hand – and they do not have an intrinsic democratic duty to uphold.

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  • September 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm
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    the problem you’ve got there Citizen is that the public hate journalists, we can thank Rupert Murdoch for that. Thanks to the gutter press it’s a sullied profession and people don’t appreciate the work it’s done and still does in holding authority to account. Even simple things like getting people their benefits back or getting the damp in their kitchen treated, getting someone a job etc, I had cases of all of those things and it made me feel proud. Going to your local paper was often a last resort and people will miss it when they’re gone.

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  • September 30, 2016 at 5:51 pm
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    Sure we all wish them well and huge luck but very sadly the strike will lead nowhere. Let’s be realistic. Newsquest papers have lost all gloss and quality and are often littered with errors and shortcuts to just fill. They will probably never return to any quality or with more staff. The good times will not return. Best to boycott flinty and soulless Newsquest and work elsewhere – if you can. Sorry….

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