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Strike action resumes at South London titles

Journalists as a group of Newsquest-owned weeklies in South London are resuming their strike action today.

National Union of Journalists members at the South London Guardian and News Shopper series returned to work on Thursday following a week of action, but the stoppage is to resume today.

The action had originally been scheduled to last a week and had been due to finish on Wednesday, but the group’s chapel subsequently announced a further week-long strike, claiming alternative suggestions for a new newsroom structure have been rebuffed.

Newsquest had said it will continue to publish despite the stoppage.

NUJ members on the picket line in South London yesterday

NUJ members on the picket line in South London last week

The strike is being held in protest at plans for up to 11 job lossess at Newsquest’s Sutton-based titles, which also include the Richmond and Twickenham Times and Surrey Comet.

According to the NUJ, seven journalists have already resigned over the plans, five of whom left the company last week.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: “It’s shocking that these journalists and those who’ve already left have been so ground down by Newsquest that they’ve simply had enough and voted with their feet.

“Their passion for the proper job of producing quality local journalism has been squandered by an employer who should have been supporting and developing them not trashing these principles and failing their readers.

“It’s embarrassing for the company that they now won’t have a single senior reporters between their titles, or any dedicated sport and leisure journalists. Remaining reporters will be expected to plug gaps from the office by turning round press releases.

“Journalists will see their pay fall because of the introduction of shifts previously classed as overtime and individuals still haven’t been given job descriptions or information about how things are actually supposed to work in the new structure. It’s a shambles.

A Newsquest spokesman said: “Obviously, we have a very different perspective than the National Union of Journalists’ PR.  We’re trying to build a sustainable future for these free newspapers.

“We’re disappointed that the Union still refuses to understand this and the structural changes that are impacting our industry.  We will continue to publish.”