ACTION OVER low pay by journalists working for US media giant owned Newsquest is hotting up as more vote in favour of industrial action. Sixty journalists from Newsquest Lancashire are in their fifth week of an indefinite strike and are set to be joined by 48 of their Bradford colleagues on Monday.
Further south, 22 Newsquest journalists on the News Shopper titles covering south London and north Kent were due to take industrial action on Friday. The strikes were sparked by Newsquest's below-inflation pay offer of 2 percent, despite the company's huge profits.
A journalist at the Newsquest Lancashire group said, 'The 2 percent offer is laughable, especially considering the amount of money the company makes. 'They are not even offering rises level with inflation - it is incredible. The more people in Newsquest who take action, the more likely we all are to win a deal. We are all for the News Shopper taking action - we now have a three-pronged attack.'
Newsquest's US parent company, Gannet, announced worldwide profits of $1.1 billion for 2002. Pre-tax profits for Newsquest Lancashire, where the Bolton and Bury titles are based, were £5.3million - almost £15,000 profit per day.
But a graduate trainee journalist at the Bury Times and Bolton Evening News starts on less than £11,000. Graduate journalists on the award-winning News Shopper titles start on around £12,000 despite the crippling living costs of London.
Bosses at Bury and Bolton have been holding out by writing the newspapers themselves. But a journalist at Newsquest Lancashire said that his local newsagent noticed the quality of paper had deteriorated - one customer even brought the paper back.
NUJ MEMBERS at the BBC boycotted director general Greg Dyke's 'Big Conversation' last week. BBC bosses promoted the event as a launch for Dyke's new set of 'corporate values'. Union officials said the boycott was solid despite management's efforts to force people to take part in Dyke's launch.
Union members are campaigning for the reinstatement of Arabic Service producers Adli Hawwari and Abdul-Hadi Jiad, who were dismissed in February. At Bush House, in London, NUJ activists and other trade unionists joined BBC staff for a lunchtime rally of about 50 people. Industrial action, including an overtime ban, is continuing.