Newsquest strike South London - picket line update
Paul Scully MP on the picket line with strikers - © NUJ
13 October 2016
Today is the first day of a week long strike organised by NUJ members working for Newsquest South London.
The strike is in response to devastating cuts proposals - Newsquest has put its entire south London newsroom on notice of redundancy, bar the managing editor and the web editor. The company want to make these job cuts by mid-October.
They want 12 reporters and one content editor to produce 11 newspapers and eight associated websites. The latest cuts announcement came one week after the company announced that no South London newspapers would continue to have professional photographers.
Newsquest have shown flagrant disregard and contempt for their employees.
Newsquest is the second largest local and regional newspaper publisher in the UK, answering to its US parent company Gannett.
Newsquest is driving down standards, terms and conditions at work for journalists. The company is making life a misery for its employees whilst continuing to maximise profits for bosses and shareholders.
Newsquest’s latest company accounts in 2014 show Newsquest made £60 million before tax. Newsquest's 2015 accounts, audited by Ernst and Young, are now overdue.
In South London, Newsquest owns newspapers and websites including 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.
Picture credit: NUJ
The strike is on until Wednesday 19 October.
Support the strike - what you can do to help:
- To donate to the strike hardship fund and send a message of support contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit the picket line outside Quadrant House in Sutton (near Sutton railway station) from 9am today. To confirm days and times to attend, email: email@example.com
- Email Newsquest boss, Henry Faure Walker, and tell him to reverse the cuts firstname.lastname@example.org
- Spread the message of support – share news of the strike on social media including tweets to @NUJofficial #NQstrike
Picture credit: NUJ
Messages of support:
Message of support from Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary: "We send our solidarity to the Newsquest journalists on strike to take a stand against this latest assault on local newspapers. Journalism is the lifeblood of our democracy and our union fully recognises the major role our local press plays in holding authority to account and providing a public service for residents and businesses. The attack on your industry by profit-hungry media companies is an attack on us all, and we fully support your continued and inspirational fight."
Bob Smith, former father of Newsquest group chapel and Newsquest Bradford chapel, said: "Good luck to all the NUJ members in south London taking action to protect their jobs and the future of local journalism. I salute you all in your efforts to resist the company's misguided actions, and in standing up for journalism and the local communities in which your work. Keep up the good fight!"
Brian Horne, Treasurer of the Edinburgh and District NUJ branch: "If you win we all win and if you lose we all lose."
The PCS NUJ chapel said: "We place great value in local journalism and are very concerned at Newsquest’s reluctance to address understaffing issues at the titles and websites it owns across South London. We urge Newsquest to negotiate a way forward with the union that will ensure that high quality local news services are provided to the public now and in the future."
"Congratulations to chapel members for your brilliant stance against job cuts at Newsquest. You are an inspiration to every journalist trying to do their job despite the best efforts of bosses, whose only concern is enriching their shareholders, not serving the communities their papers should be working for or protecting the jobs of their staff." said Julia Armstrong, mother of Sheffield newspapers chapel.
Express newspapers chapel said: "This chapel sends its unanimous support to NUJ members at Newsquest in South London who are going out on strike from Thursday to defend the future of their newspapers. We are appalled by Newsquest's efforts to cut jobs and budgets and believe that an inquiry is needed into the state of the newspaper industry in London."
"There is no viable future for local newspapers that cannot deliver local news. What happens in South London today will happen to the rest of us tomorrow unless we can convince management of this obvious truth. We hope you get a rapid and sensible outcome to this dispute that leaves in tact your capacity to gather news and report it. We stand stand 100% in solidarity with you." Anna Wagstaff, secretary of the Oxford and District NUJ branch
The NUJ's London central branch is the latest to agreed a donation to the Newsquest striker's hardship fund. Last night they agreed to donate £1,000.
"For a media giant such as Gannett, with the money it pulls in, failing to realise that 'news sells' defies credulity, but such short-term cost-cutting greed is also threatening not only your jobs but an important part of everyday life in the UK. Local newspapers play a vital cohesive role in establishing and maintaining community identities, helping people get to know one another and what's going on around them. Local papers contribute beyond measure to the cultural and political health of the areas they cover and serve. I hope you shout loud enough for Gannett executives in the US to hear. I wish you all success." said Adam Christie, NEC member for Yorkshire and the North East