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Back on the picket line and still up for the fight

Teas arrive on the picket line  -  © nuj

24 October 2016

Newsquest south London members were back on the picket line today (Monday 24 October) as they extended their strike until Friday 28 October.

The company, the UK's second biggest newspaper group, had put all but a handful of the 29 staff at risk of redundancy and proposed a "restructure" which will result in 12 reporters covering news, sport and leisure across 11 newspapers and associated websites under a single content editor. The company said it wanted the per-page cost to drop from £109 to £53 and it axed a contract with a photographic agency.

Seven reporters have resigned and many of them left last week, leaving the picket line shorter but even more resolved to carry on the action to fight for more staff to produce quality newspapers and websites and to prevent unacceptable workloads for those who remain.

The titles include the Croydon, Epsom, Sutton, Wandsworth and Wimbledon Guardians, the Richmond & Twickenham Times, the Surrey Comet and the News Shopper in Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham.

The cuts have resulted in:

  • Wandsworth without a reporter or content editor..
  • Croydon with no reporter or content editor.
  • New Shopper titles covering five titles and four boroughs with two trainee reporters.
  • The Surrey Comet, the newspaper founded 1854 which covers Kingston-upon-Thames and surrounding area, with no content editor and two reporters.
  • Wimbledon with one reporter and no content editor.
  • Epsom with one reporter and no content editor.
  • Sutton with two reporters and no ontent editor.

The union is prepared to negotiate, but so far after the failure of talks with the arbitration service ACAS, Newsquest's management is refusing to talk to the chapel or NUJ officials.

The London Assembly has been supportive. It will be voting on a motion about the dispute at the Assembly's next plenary session and is proposing an inquiry into the future of the media in the capital.

A spokesperson for the chapel said:

"We are still feeling upbeat and up for the fight. It was sad to see our colleagues leave last week, but we know they will continue to support us. The chapel would like to thank all the politicians who have contacted Newsquest management and everyone who has contributed to the strike fund. Former staff member have called by, they still care about the paper and know how strongly we feel about being able to put out quality news, features and sport. That is all we are asking for."

john McDonnell
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell supporting the strikers NUJ ©

Tags: , local newspapers, local news matters, newsquest, newsquest south london, strike, redundancies, picket, wandsworth, croydon, new shopper, epsom, sutton, surrey comet, wimbledon guardian