More than 100 Express and Star journalists packed into a workplace union chapel meeting last week. We voted to take industrial action in support of our pay claim-there were ten votes against. We have agreed six separate days of action, set to start this Friday, with three-hour stoppages on each, working up to a full day's strike. The stoppages will take place from 5pm to 8pm each evening, a time designed to hit production the most.
It will be the first strike of a national newspaper since Wapping 15 years ago. The past year at the Express and Star has seen 135 job losses, the remaining workforce crammed into less and less space, the evening and weekend closure of our canteen, and worse contracts for workers.
This is at a time when our owner, Richard Desmond, is talking about making £70 million profit this year. Last month he was a guest of his new pal Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street. We are asking for £1,250 across the board increases for every member of staff. The timing and the strength of feeling at our chapel meeting gave management an unexpected shock.
More and more people are joining the union. We feel we are on the brink of a victory with the new-found confidence displayed by the chapel.
JOURNALISTS AT the Wakefield Express have voted to strike for better pay for three days next week. The journalists' NUJ chapel (workplace union branch) voted 85 percent in favour of strike action after rejecting offers by management at the Johnston group owned Yorkshire Weekly Newspapers.
'The chapel is very solid and it's the young journalists who have been pushing for action,' said a chapel spokesperson. The strikes will take place on Wednesday and Thursday of next week and the following Tuesday-meaning that journalists will be away from work for seven days because of the Easter holiday.
The prospect of further strike action among journalists was increased when NUJ members at the Preston based Lancashire Evening Post (which is not recognised) and the joint Yorkshire Post/Evening Post chapel in Leeds also voted to strike over pay.
NATIONAL PAY MEETING
for all journalists called by the Northern Low Pay Committee and supported by the NUJ Saturday 6 April, 12 noon-4pm, Leeds Town Hall