Newsquest South London strike is back on
6 October 2016
Following talks between Newsquest and the NUJ at the arbitration service ACAS yesterday, Wednesday 5 October, the NUJ chapel has agreed unanimously that the strike is back on.
There has been no meaningful consultation about the cuts proposed and there has been no change in management’s approach. The chapel raised concerns about the job cuts, recruitment freeze and existing staffing levels, health and safety, excessive workloads and the deterioration in quality at the titles and websites that have been created by many previous cuts.
The NUJ South London Newsquest chapel has agreed to go on strike on Thursday 13 October until Wednesday 19 October followed by an indefinite work to rule.
The chapel entered into talks in good faith and the action is urgent because Croydon will be left with no reporters in less than a week's time and Wandsworth has no reporters at the moment.
By law the union has to notify the company at least seven days in advance of any action.
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:
"Newsquest's behaviour is disingenuous to say the least. Chapel members agreed to suspend industrial action in good faith to meet for meaningful talks at ACAS. Sadly their scepticism about the company's willingness to address the real crunch issue of headcount has proved well founded and has only reinforced chapel resolve.
"Simply moving the deckchairs on the Titanic is not going to solve the fact that as of next week there will be no reporters on one title and that another has limped along without cover for several weeks. Local management needs to get real, make the case to the top that these positions need filling and crack on with doing it.
"We welcome the brilliant support that the chapel has had as they stand up for quality local journalism in the face of Newsquest's unscrupulous tactics."
An NUJ chapel spokesperson said:
"Newsquest has treated us with contempt throughout this process and has dealt with us in bad faith at every turn.
"The company is the second largest local newspaper publisher in the UK and it is leading the way on destroying our jobs and quality journalism in London.
"Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker told MPs that he doesn't take his staff for granted, but the evidence suggests the contrary. Not only does he treat us with contempt but he is planning to get rid of us one by one.
"Managers at all levels of the company have not taken our concerns about understaffing seriously and, even when they did, begrudgingly, agree to ACAS talks they then refused to talk to us properly and have shown they are not prepared to change their approach at all.
"Newsquest’s South London managing director, Tony Portelli, could have had a better relationship with staff from day one but he has regularly ignored our many attempts to talk to resolve the problems we face at Newsquest.
"Strike action is always the last resort, but we are 100% united to take action next week. We have been left with no other option because of Newsquest's appalling plans to destroy our livelihoods, local newspaper titles and websites."
The titles and websites affected 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. Gannett, the biggest US newspaper publisher, owns Newsquest.
What you can do to help the strikers:
- Support the strikers by donating to their hardship fund: Pay donations to NUJ account number 20143387 sort code 608301 IBAN GB93NWBK60023571418024 SWIFT NWBKGB2L and then please email Bernard Roche in the NUJ finance department to ensure the money you have donated is allocated to the strike fund: email@example.com
- Visit the picket line on Thursday 13 October at 9am outside Quadrant House, Sutton (just round the corner from Sutton train station)
- Send messages of support to the chapel, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send this press release to your local MP or local councillors, raising concerns about quality journalism - ask them to pledge to support the strikers.
- Tweet your support #NQstrike to @NUJofficial
- Access the latest information about the the local news matters campaign