Support Yorkshire journalists' dispute

17 Jan 2002

Strike ‘a success’

National Union of Journalists members at Newsquest Bradford have asked me to pass on their thanks for the magnificent solidarity they received from other journalists and trade unionists during yesterday's strike over low pay.

Forty-four NUJ members supported the strike with just five going into work. A number of non-union journalists expressed support for the aims of the strike and we are confident some will join the union.

NUJ President Rory McLeod drove through the night from Glasgow to be on the picket line from 6am - and there were delegations from Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, and Coventry.

A cheery picket outside the T&A - © Stalingrad O'Neill
A cheery picket outside the T&A on 16 January, with President McLeod (5th from left, with tie). Photo © 2002 Stalingrad O'Neill

Messages of support were received from all over the world - especially the USA where the Newspaper Guild made the strike the top story on their website. You can read it by visiting: www.newsguild.org Newsquest is owned by the American media giant Gannett.

More than £3000 was banked into the strike fund this morning.

The temptations...

On the day before the strike management made a fresh offer.

The minimum trainee rate is to be raised from £10,500 to £12,000. The chapel (workplace branch) asked for this in August and it was dismissed out of hand. The offer finally came 17 hours before the strike was due to start - proving that when members stick together arguments can be won. This was agreed as a step forward.

The company also promised to either "consider" or "look at" improvements to sick pay and holiday entitlement, and the introduction of proper pay bands. The firm also said they could see no reason for any compulsory redundancies this year. There was no move on the 2.5 percent pay offer.

At a lunchtime meeting the union members agreed to reconvene in the evening - and in the interim asked the company to firm up its "considerings" into real offers and to increase the pay offer to 4 percent - the average pay rise in the UK last year.

The company replied that they were serious about considering things - but no change was made to the wording of the offer. The chapel voted by 29 votes to nil, with one abstention, to carry on with the strike. The firm has always claimed less than 20 people supported the action.

Cheats...

In the week leading up the strike management hardened union members' resolve with a series of ill conceived actions. Young reporters were taken into rooms by a senior manager and told in a one-to-one that their careers would be over if they went on strike; although the stoppage only lasted until two o'clock bosses declared that they would dock a whole day's pay and said anyone returning to work would do so on a voluntary basis; strike-breakers were told they would be paid a bonus; and a memo was put out telling other staff that they should prepare for violence on the day of the strike.

In the event everyone went back together at two o'clock; the most threatening action was handing free balloons to passing children; and the chapel collected enough money to pay strikers a bonus.

You can make a difference

The next planned strike is on Friday January 25. The chapel will need your encouragement again. Please send congratulations about the success of yesterday's action and solidarity messages to sarah@casamft.freeserve.co.uk and/or bobsmith2001@btopenworld.com

Money is still needed to see our members through next week's action. Please organise a workplace collection as it will help to strengthen your organisation as well as support the Bradford strikers. Chapel leaders in Sheffield and Rotherham have pledged to hold weekly whiprounds. Cheques should be made payable to "Newsquest Bradford NUJ Chapel" and sent to 22, Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JQ.

Send polite protests marked for the attention of Newsquest chief executive Paul Stevenson to info@newsquest.co.uk or by fax to 020 8640 8989. (The previously advertised email didn't work!)

 
[NUJ.LFB home]
Search Help
Site map

Last modified: 30 January 2002

Send design comments to:
web@londonfreelance.org
© 2002 NUJ
[NUJ.LFB home]