THE ALL-OUT strike by journalists in Bradford was set to end on Wednesday as Socialist Worker went to press. Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have been striking against a below-inflation pay rise offered by Newsquest bosses.
The decision to go back was influenced by the fact that protection from being sacked while on strike was running out. Under the terms of New Labour’s anti-union laws workers can be sacked after eight weeks on strike. Strikers were due to meet in Bradford on Tuesday to decide whether to reballot for further action, which could renew protection from sacking for another eight weeks.
Bob Smith, joint father of the chapel (workplace shop steward), said, ‘The dispute is still active and we have not settled yet. There is the possibility to go back out on strike in the future but we will have to see what the chapel thinks.’
Newsquest Media, which is owned by media giant Gannett, made £69 million last year but pays graduate trainee staff as little as £12,000. If the Bradford workers go back it would be the second dispute involving NUJ members and Newsquest where this has happened when action has come up against the eight week limit.
NUJ members at Newsquest titles in Bury and Bolton did the same last month. The strategy of calling off action when faced with the limitations of the anti-union laws is a potentially disastrous way of fighting. It allows bosses to sit tight and know they can see workers return to work after a few weeks.
Much better would be for the national union to organise the kind of solidarity which can hit companies hard and quickly win disputes. And the NUJ could tell companies like Newsquest that if they use anti-union laws to sack workers the union would meet fire with fire, call out Newsquest NUJ members nationally and appeal to other unions for active solidarity,
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