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Regional journalists announce pre-Christmas strike over pay

nujlogoJournalists at a regional publisher are set to go on strike in the week before Christmas over what they have termed “poor pay”.

The National Union of Journalists has announced members at the Carlisle News & Star, Cumberland News, Workington Times & Star and Whitehaven News will walk out on Thursday 20 December.

According to the NUJ, Newsquest has made more than 100 people redundant since it took over the CN Group in March and the union claims other staff are set to leave before Christmas, leading to “huge workloads” for those remaining.

However Newsquest says it has actually increased the number of reporters on the News & Star from seven to ten, with a similar increase in reporter numbers from five to eight at Barrow-based sister daily The Mail.

In Workington, with an 80 per cent turn-out, there was a 100pc vote for strike action and action short of a strike, and in Whitehaven, with a 100pc turn-out, the votes were 80pc to take strike action and 100 per cent to take action short of strike action.

The NUJ chapel in Carlisle voted last month for action over the failure of the company to offer any pay rise, and has now accused Newsquest of having “driven away most of our most experienced local journalists”.

A spokesperson for the Carlisle chapel said: “If this continues, our newsrooms will be populated almost exclusively by junior, inexperienced and transient reporters, destined to move on quickly because they cannot afford to remain in a job where low pay rates confirm they are not valued.

“Carlisle members have been incredibly patient with Newsquest and were prepared to believe we were dealing with a management which aimed to turn around the company’s fortunes, allowing shareholders and staff to reap the rewards whilst offering a valued and quality to product to readers and advertisers.

“What we have seen however is simple asset-stripping, with staff treated with contempt and customers treated as collateral damage.”

“This is hardly the independent, dynamic regional journalism which readers deserve, have long supported and surely need more than ever in a world afflicted by fake news.”

A Newsquest spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the NUJ has taken this stance especially as Newsquest has in fact invested in a new state of the art system for the editorial department and actually increased the number of reporters than under the previous owners.

“Our primary focus is to ensure that these titles have a sustainable future and despite this strike action they will continue to be published in full.”

5 comments

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  • December 7, 2018 at 9:13 am
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    Absolutely despicable conduct by the company. They should walk out for a week, not a day. Or resign, take the company to a tribunal for constructive dismissal, and make sure all their rival papers, plus HTFP and PressGazette, are sat in the public gallery.

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  • December 7, 2018 at 1:45 pm
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    Hope you can get a good number of NUJ members on your `picket line`
    And maybe a few freelancers as well, Good Luck,

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  • December 8, 2018 at 5:43 pm
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    Dear Newsquest,
    Thank you for your investment in a state-of-the-art system which now means that reporters can take pictures, upload pictures, open templates, write straight onto pages, write headlines, upload to the web and write social media all simultaneously.
    Your investment in technology is fantastic. Perhaps now is the time to invest in your hard working, committed staff by offering them an increase in their pay.
    You budgeted £3.4m to buy the company, £1m to allow for redundancies, who knows what for your fine equipment. Could you not have budgeted just £40,000 to increase the pay of those journalists who remained, willing and able to help you ensure that your newly-acquired titles might have a future?
    Seems not.
    And please stop accusing the NUJ of taking this stance. It is your STAFF.

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  • December 10, 2018 at 9:03 am
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    Dear Newsquest,
    Love your conciliatory quote. Yes, we too are available to talk about the issues in the hope of avoiding a damaging dispute.
    We have no doubt the titles will continue to be published in full. It’s the quality we’re concerned about – but then that’s maybe the fundamental difference between us.

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  • December 11, 2018 at 7:40 am
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    Can remember the happy Christmas I had in 2015, working for Newsquest’s subbing hub in Newport. Just one day before the Christmas break (ie Christmas Eve) we were put on notice that the company would be making redundancies in the New Year and every member of staff was at risk. I survived that cull but left of my own volition shortly afterwards – not long before they wound up the hub altogether. Nice one, Newsquest. Let’s hope these journalists give you the bloody nose you deserve.

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