Socialist Worker

Newsquest: Stop press - we’re on strike

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2234

Journalists on strike at the Brighton Argus

Journalists on strike at the Brighton Argus

Journalists at local newspapers across Britain are battling against a pay freeze and job cuts by their profiteering employer.

Last week, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members struck at newspaper firm Newsquest in Brighton, Darlington and Southampton.

On the picket line in Brighton, Ruth Lumley, a senior reporter at The Argus, told Socialist Worker, “This is the third time we’ve been out on strike. It’s over two issues.

“Firstly they wanted to move our sub-editors to Southampton and they made five sub-editors and our Worthing reporter redundant.

“The paper is now being subbed in Southampton, without local knowledge.

“We were striking to stop that from happening, but unfortunately it has gone ahead and they left before Christmas.

“Management also refused to have a conversation with us about lifting the pay freeze.”

Newsquest is the British arm of billion-dollar US company Gannett.

“We’re struggling while our chief executive here gets a 21 percent pay rise and staff here who didn’t strike were given bonuses,” added Ruth.

“If they spoke to us like human beings and treated us with respect it probably wouldn’t have got to this.

“We balloted in October. Everybody had got to the point where we knew we had to take some kind of industrial action.”

Another reporter said, “If there was a last minute change to the story we used to be able to go and speak to the editors and change it. But now, because it’s gone to Southampton, that’s it. The changes are damaging the newspaper.”

Other Newsquest branches were due to join the strike, but called off their action after a derisory 2 percent pay offer from management.

The workers who did strike, though, received huge amounts of solidarity from trade unionists in the city.

Tim Norman, co-father of the chapel (steward), told Socialist Worker, “We’ve had some brilliant support, especially from the students.

“We had the GMB, Unison, Unite and councillors come and show their support. Our MP Caroline Lucas has been here too.”

Ben Parsons, another NUJ member said, “The solidarity from the students was fantastic, it really made us feel like we are part of a movement.”

Newsquest workers from Southampton and Brighton protested outside the company headquarters in Weybridge on Friday of last week against the continuing attacks.

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Tue 11 Jan 2011, 18:33 GMT
Issue No. 2234
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