Socialist Worker

Newsquest journalists in Cumbria strike against cuts and for better pay

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2635

On the picket line in Carlisle

On the picket line in Carlisle (Pic: @NUJOfficial on Twitter)


Journalists working at regional newspapers in Cumbria struck on Thursday in a fight against cuts and for better pay.

The members of the NUJ union work for newspapers owned by publisher Newsquest in Carlisle, Workington and Whitehaven.

The newspaper giant has made more than 100 people redundant since it took over from previous publisher CN Group in March this year.

Journalists are angry that bosses at Newsquest, which took over in March last year, have failed to offer them a pay rise. They say they have not had a pay rise since 2015—and only had two pay rises in the last 11 years.

There was a good turnout on picket lines in Carlisle and Workington, which began from 7am on Thursday.

Strikers held placards calling on Newsquest to stop the cuts to local news.

Newsquest’s cuts repeat a pattern at other newspapers it owns across Britain, where papers are often reduced to running on skeleton staffs.

NUJ members struck at a Newsquest-owned newspaper in Swindon earlier this year. And Newsquest newspapers in south London have also seen strikes.

Journalism

One striking journalist said, “When I got into journalism I knew this wasn’t a highly paid job, but I expected to be able to have a reasonable standard of living.

They added, “I was taken on to work for a weekly, yet I now work provide content for two weekly papers, a daily one, websites and anything else they can squeeze out of me.

“I have never had a pay rise to compensate for the extra work. Knowing that I’m being used is leaving me feeling crushed at the end of each day.”

A Cumbria Newsquest NUJ rep said, “Newsquest's takeover has aggravated what was already an inadequate situation. Stress levels have been high and pay has been low for journalists in West Cumbria for too long.”

“Since taking control of newspapers in the area, job cuts, imposed by the company, have led to decades of experience walking out of the newsroom, without ample replacements.

“This has piled pressure on remaining staff members, causing stress levels to soar to the point staff have been signed off work.”

They added, “The pay increases asked for are minimal, especially when compared to the money made by Newsquest's top bosses. They obviously feel editorial staff, who keep the company running on a daily basis through hard work in difficult circumstances, aren't worth investing in.”


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