Journalists at the Independent newspapers were celebrating an astonishing vote in their fight for union rights. A whopping 99.6 percent of journalists at the Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers voted yes to union recognition in a ballot. Eighty percent of all staff eligible to vote turned out.
The vote at the two London based national newspapers follows a 75 percent vote for union recognition last week at the Belfast Telegraph, also owned by Irish billionaire Tony O'Reilly. And workers at O'Reilly's newspapers in New Zealand have just won concessions over union rights after taking strike action there.
The Independent vote is the first victory at a national newspaper in the fight to win back union rights. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s employers derecognised unions. Over the last year, despite the limitations of the union rights law that came in last summer, journalists at a series of magazine publishers and regional newspapers have won back union rights.
The victory at the Independent titles should act as a spur for pushing the fight for union rights into other national newspapers. In the past few weeks Independent bosses have sacked staff, hacked freelance support and slashed budgets. Bosses have told the press there may be more layoffs.
Staff are furious at these sackings and also at attempts by managers to squeeze even more work out of them to make up for the job losses.