Socialist Worker

Newspaper strikers 'Express' their anger at management

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2096

Left List mayoral candidate Lindsey German (centre) joined pickets at the Express on Friday of last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Left List mayoral candidate Lindsey German (centre) joined pickets at the Express on Friday of last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The first strike at national newspapers for almost 20 years took place on Friday of last week as journalists at the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Star and the Daily Star Sunday struck over pay.

The NUJ journalists' union members, who are based in London and Preston, are angry at management's plans to give workers a below-inflation deal of 3 percent.

There was a picket line from early on Friday morning outside the Express Newspapers' offices in central London. Proprietor Richard Desmond's chauffer-driven Bentley swept by the pickets at around 7.40am.

Michelle Stanistreet, an NUJ rep at the Express and the union's national president, had flown back from the NUJ conference in Belfast, along with NUJ organiser Barry Fitzpatrick, to be on the picket line.

Michelle told Socialist Worker, 'There have been no meaningful negotiations over pay. Management's attitude seems to be, 'We're offering 3 percent, so take it and just be grateful there's no sackings or staff economies to make.'

'But we're not grateful or satisfied with that. This is a profitable company. They can afford to give us a better deal.

'We have also had to fight attempts to cut costs regardless of the impact on the quality of journalism. We have been cut to the bone and we are facing the worst pay offer on Fleet Street. People have had enough.'

Express Newspapers' journalists are also concerned about the hands-on role Desmond takes in the editorial decision-making on the papers.

Steve Usher, the father of the chapel [workplace union branch] at the Star, told Socialist Worker, 'We have a strong chapel here and we're sticking together.

'We had a meeting of 150 people on Wednesday to discuss the issues. Staff members have been joining the union in the run-up to the strike.

'We are striking over pay but management have refused to talk to the union about other things such as holidays, casual staff, issues in the building. The principle of having the right to negotiate over pay and conditions is not something we are going to give up on.'

Jane Sherwood, an NUJ member on the Sunday Express, said, 'We are not getting a pay rise. It's an increase in salary to stand still. While they are offering us 3 percent my heating bills have gone up by 14 percent and my travel costs have risen by 8 percent.'

The picketing lasted for most of the day, with tens of journalists joining it. A number of cars beeped their horns in support as they passed.

Strikers also turned away two mail vans. Lindsey German, the Left List candidate for mayor of London, showed her support by joining pickets.

NUJ members were set to strike again on Friday of this week, and Friday of next week.

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Article information

Tue 8 Apr 2008, 19:57 BST
Issue No. 2096
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