Support Greater Manchester strikers

It’s grim up North...

National Union of Journalists members at Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers (North) voted to strike for six days over low pay and union recognition.

Update 30/04/2002

Union members were so cross that the company is refusing to talk to them without pre-conditions that they voted to strike for seven more days - from Tuesday 30 April to Wednesday 8 May inclusive.

Then the dispte was settled on 30 April.

Details of the deal

The planned protest outside the Guardian's main office on Farringdon Road in London on 1 May is no longer needed.

The strikes are due to happen on 16, 17, 23, 24 and 30 April and 1 May. There will be picket lines outside the offices of the Rochdale Observer, Asian News, Middleton Guardian, Heywood Advertiser, Rossendale Free Press, Accrington Observer, Oldham Advertiser, and Salford Advertiser. Please join the picket line and bring your banners.

The chapel would obviously appreciate it if any freelances asked to cover at these titles were unavailable. Any freelances who suffer hardship while being unavailable should get in touch and we'll see what can be done.

D'you want fries with that story?

On the current pay scales trainee journalists at the company start on as little as £10,486 per annum. The maximum anyone below the rank of deputy editor can earn is £17,692.

GMWN is owned by the Guardian Media Group. According to research published in the Guardian in June 2001, the average starting salary for graduates in the traditionally low paid retail and catering sectors is £17,000. This is the wage paid to highly experienced journalists who have degrees and professional qualifications. The chapel asked for a 7.5 percent rise to help catch up with other industries. The last management offer was 2.5 percent.

Fries with that story...

In the year to 1 April 2001 Greater Manchester Newspapers - the division of the Guardian Media Group involved - made an after-tax profit of £12.4 million.

In a secret ballot 100 percent of NUJ members who took part voted for a strike over low pay. On the day the result was declared the management of Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers (North) announced that they were de-recognising the NUJ - refusing to negotiate on pay and conditions.

It is the first time Guardian Media has ever de-recognised an NUJ chapel. The firm's flagship papers - the Guardian and Observer - regularly criticise bullying employers. The papers are read by thousands of trade union members.

Guardian Media is owned by the Scott Trust. The chair of the trust is Guardian writer Hugo Young. Please support the Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers workers by emailing him at or faxing him on 0207 837 4530. See the model letter - download it and edit into your own (polite) words.

Hugo Young responds "Nothing to do wiv me, guv." (That's not, like, a direct direct quote.) So write instead to

When and how you can help

Whether or not you can join the picket lines (as above), send your messages of support can be sent to the chapel (workplace branch) at They can be a huge morale boost. Contact anyone you know who you think the Chapel would be pleased to hear from and encourage them to send a message of support, too.

The chapel needs money. Please urge your branch or chapel to hold a meeting and agree to make a donation to the strike fund. Organise a whip-round in the office or among branch members. You don't need to be a chapel or branch official to start a collection. Just do it.

Cheques should be made payable to "GMWN NUJ Fund" and sent to:

GMWN Fund, c/o NUJ
22 Swan Street
Manchester, M4 5JQ

Individual donations are also welcome, however small.

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Last modified: 30 April 2002

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