FORTY JOURNALISTS at EMAP Healthcare/PSM in London last week launched the first strike in national magazines for over a decade. The successful one-day action over pay follows a series of strikes by journalists in local and regional newspapers.
EMAP is one of Britain's top magazine publishers. Like many companies it is broken up into various divisions. Last week's strike involved staff in a division which publishes magazines such as Nursing Times.
The strike was rock solid and badly hit production of two magazines, which had to drop pages. Non-union members and freelancers also supported the strike. Some 20 strikers joined an excellent picket line, together with national officials and supporters. Delegations from other unions and the Westminister council strike also attended. At a strike meeting during the morning, national officials praised the strikers and pledged the union's support for further action.
One striker said, 'I went on strike because EMAP continues to undermine professional and skilled staff by underpaying many and openly boasting enormous profits for themselves. 'Friday's strike restored some morale to my otherwise increasing despondency and feeling of worthlessness within the company. It strengthened my resolve to continue the dispute.'
Another striker said, 'I went on strike because I believe that people who do the same job for the same company should be paid the same rate. I'm fed up with seeing good people leave because they feel they're being treated unfairly. EMAP gave a £1 million 'golden goodbye' to our chief executive - I was absolutely incensed. I felt the strike was very well organised and very well supported. It strengthened my resolve to carry on to the end.'
Another striker added, 'The contracts that EMAP are offering journalists are gradually getting worse. They have reduced the starting salary of numerous posts and there are ridiculous situations where people are doing the same job for vastly different rates of pay. New contracts have seen people bound to work more hours than their colleagues. I found it insulting to be offered a below the rate of inflation pay rise. Opting to strike was not an easy decision - but I think it was the only way to show that we are prepared to act collectively and that we want to be taken seriously.'
Strikers were planning to meet later this week to decide on escalating the action.