JOURNALISTS AT the Rotherham Advertiser start a one-week strike from Saturday 24 August over low pay. The 13 NUJ union members voted overwhelmingly in favour of strikes in a ballot. The NUJ chapel (union branch) rejected a 2.3 percent offer from the owner Garnett Dickinson Publishing. The chapel has put in a claim for a 10 percent rise.
As the ballot result was due, the company offered to scrap Saturday working for subs and reporters as a concession. But this was not enough. Trainees earn £13,000 a year while most journalists get between £17,000 and £19,000. 'As part of the union's low pay campaign we have highlighted the fact that McDonald's start trainee managers on £17,000 a year and when they qualify they get £24,000. So why do newspaper bosses think they can pay so little?' said Phil Turner of the union's northern low pay committee.
JOURNALISTS AT the Trinity Mirror owned Newcastle Chronicle and Journal have stepped up action against low pay with strikes on Friday and Saturday of last week. Over 100 NUJ union members had taken part on two previous strike days.
NUJ branch treasurer David Baines told Socialist Worker, 'The latest offer from management was for an increase of 2 percent with some enhancements for trainees. This was rejected almost unanimously in a ballot.
'At the start of the dispute the management thought the union represented nobody and nothing but now they think differently. Friday's edition of the Journal, the local daily morning newspaper on Tyneside, was produced on Thursday by journalists.
The front page of Saturday's edition, produced by management, was just a rehash of Friday's paper. Because of today's dispute the management are having real problems producing the Sunday Sun, which is a big sports paper. All the sports journalists are on strike and the editor has had to write the leading article on the back page. At the start of the dispute there was 45 percent union membership.
Now we have 60 percent. On the first day of strike action three weeks ago there was a party of school kids on a trip to the paper. They were given union balloons which said 'Pooey to 2 percent'. They paraded these balloons all around the works and they were confiscated by management, much to the annoyance of the seven and eight year old children.'
Sports and music journalist Luke Edwards said, 'Journalists now see themselves as just like other workers protesting against years of low pay.' Trinity Mirror bosses are facing a second front. NUJ members at the Post and Echo weekly papers in Liverpool are balloting for action over pay.
NUJ MEMBERS at EMAP magazine publishers in Camden, north London, have been balloting for industrial action over pay. Negotiations over reducing pay differentials have broken down.