22 June 2005

Coventry strikers step up action

Forty-three journalists at Coventry Newspapers supported the strike against low pay on Friday 17 June.

A chapel meeting held during the day of action agreed to increase pressure on the management by naming more dates for action.

They told management they planned to hold disruptive mandatory union meetings on one, some, or all of June 28, 29, 30 and July 1.

Update 06/07/05

Please take five minutes to write

I'm writing to urge every reader to spend the next five minutes sending an email to Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey to protest about low pay on the company's papers in the Midlands.

Last year Ms Bailey earned £1.05 million including bonuses: see The Times online. At Trinity Mirror's weekly titles in the Coventry Newspapers group journalists with at least two years' experience and all their professional qualifications are paid £14,000 per annum. These are not the lowest paid people on the papers.

So, last year it took Sly Bailey less than five days to earn what these senior journalists earn in a whole year. That's why we are asking everyone who believes in fairness to send polite emails to sly.bailey@trinitymirror.com to point out the injustice of the situation. And please copy these, with your message of support, to coventrystrikes@yahoo.co.uk.

Update 30/06/05

Sly and the family stony-broke

Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey is to face a challenge from NUJ members when she visits strike-hit Coventry next Monday.

Ms Bailey, who earned more than a million pounds last year, has been challenged to answer questions from journalists - who start on as little as £11,500 per annum.

The Coventry Newspapers NUJ chapel - which is today holding its third day of industrial action - is sending the following letter to their boss:

Dear Sly Bailey,

We, members of the Coventry Newspapers chapel of the National Union of Journalists would like a question and answer session with you when you visit the Coventry Evening Telegraph on Monday July 4. We are concerned about the quality of editorial content and falling circulation. Would you be prepared to have a question and answer session with all editorial staff about our concerns when you visit?

The Coventry journalists have also voted for two more days of strike action - Thursday and Friday next week, and to start writing to advertisers to explain the dispute. The papers involved are the Coventry Evening Telegraph, Coventry Citizen, Nuneaton Tribune, Bedworth Echo, and Hinckley Times.


Update 28/06/05

The bosses have been claiming the action is unlawful and told workers that if they downed-tools for short meetings they would have their pay docked for a whole day. They went as far as to say that attendance at work on the days of disruptive meetings would be considered as "purely voluntary".

So chapel (workplace union branch) members have decided to call their bluff and stay away from work for the whole day on Wednesday and Thursday.

What it's all about

The company have offered a basic pay deal of 2.75 per cent with some extras on minimum bandings. It will leave virtually the entire chapel earning below the average male wage in Coventry.

The new minimum rate for qualified journalists on the evening paper will be £18,882 per annum – more than £800 less than the rate for journalists on daily papers in nearby Birmingham, which are also owned by Trinity Mirror.

On the weeklies graduate trainees will start on as little as £11,500 and fully qualified senior journalists with all their professional qualifications and two year’s experience will start on £14,000.

Last year Trinity Mirror made profits of more than £200 million. Coventry journalists voted 80 percent in favour of a strike in a secret ballot.


Whatever the outcome in Coventry this dispute will keep the pressure on newspaper employers to improve pay in the industry. So it is vital for everyone.

  • Send messages of support to coventrystrikes@yahoo.co.uk. The messages read out on the picket line last week were a massive boost to morale.
  • Most importantly, hold whip-rounds and encourage branches and chapels to send donations made payable to "Coventry branch National Union of Journalists" to 4, Ribble Road, Coventry, CV3 1AU. These low paid workers are losing cash in a battle that affects everyone in the media. Low pay in papers forces the rates down in other areas.
  • Donations pledged so far include £86.52 collected at the NUJ women’s conference, £50 from former MP and NUJ member of honour Tony Benn, and £50 from the Scarborough Evening News chapel.
  • If you are a freelance journalist the Chapel would much appreciate it if you found yourself unavailable to supply any stories or photographs to the papers affected during walkouts. If you suffer hardship while being unavailable, contact the Chapel.
  • Pass this information on to anyone who will be interested.
Last modified: 6 July 2005 - © 2005 contributors
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