Journalists at a string of weekly newspapers owned by the Guardian Media Group in the Manchester area have voted for strikes over low pay. Staff at the Rochdale Observer, Asian News, Middleton Guardian, Heywood Advertiser, Rossendale Free Press, Accrington Observer, Oldham Advertiser and Salford Advertiser are to strike for six days.
They will take action on 16 and 17 April, 23 and 24 April, and 30 April and 1 May. This comes after a 100 percent vote for strike action. Plans are under way to mount picket lines on all the papers in a strike that will be the latest in a wave of action over pay by journalists.
NUJ union members at the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post voted by 95.5 percent for a strike over pay. On Saturday the NUJ is holding an official meeting in Leeds for activists to discuss spreading the battle over low pay.
The Manchester papers are all owned by a subsidiary of the Guardian Media Group, whose flagship titles are the national daily the Guardian and the Sunday paper the Observer. On the Manchester weeklies journalists can start on as little as £10,486 a year, and the maximum anyone below the rank of deputy editor can earn is £17,692 a year.
Members of the NUJ are demanding a 7.5 percent rise to tackle low pay, but the company is only offering 2.5 percent. On the day the ballot result was declared the company refused to negotiate over pay and conditions with the NUJ-a form of union derecognition. The NUJ is calling on people to support the Manchester strikes.
It is also asking for e-mail protests over the company's behaviour to Guardian journalist Hugo Young, who is chair of the Scott Trust that owns the Guardian Media Group. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
National pay meeting for all journalists, called by the Northern Pay Committee and supported by the NUJ, this Saturday 6 April, 12 noon-4pm at Leeds Town Hall.