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North London Tindle journalists return to work

4 May 2011

Journalists at Sir Ray Tindle's North London and Herts Newspapers group returned to work today (Tuesday) following a strike for jobs and quality journalism that began on 19 April.

Jonathan Lovett, NUJ father of the chapel (FoC), said:

"We're now waiting for management negotiate with us to resolve staff shortages, which are damaging the newspaper products which serve our local communities.
"Our strike has been a magnificent success, with solid support from the communities of North London and from trade unionists and well-wishers across the country.
"The enthusiastic backing which our nine striking journalists have had from the NUJ has also been inspiring, with visits to our picket line by general secretary Jeremy Dear and general secretary elect Michelle Stanistreet, as well as the union's head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick and NUJ members from every sector of the media.
"Our strike has shown a relatively young NUJ chapel that when we join together we have the power to make ourselves heard. The level of support we've had from other journalists and the community at large has also demonstrated to us that our cause is just and our struggle for quality journalism deserves to succeed."

The Enfield Nine held a street party last week outside TIndle headquarters in Farnham, complete with bunting, fairy cakes, cucumber sandwiches and music in a bid to persuade their owner Sir Ray Tindle to preserve their formerly award-winning newspapers.

Jonathan Lovett said:

"We've found that striking can be a positive action if the cause is right. We feel we have finally found a voice after months of fruitless negotiations and frustration.
"When we started this we didn't realise we would hit such a nerve with journalists and readers up and down the country.
"We hope this is the start of a national debate about the future of local journalism. For too long, profit-hungry newspaper owners have been getting away with inferior products which do a disservice to their loyal readers."

The nine NUJ strikers walked out on April 19 to underline their anger that more than a third of editorial staff have left without being replaced and key positions are not being filled.

They said:

"Just three reporters are churning out nine newspapers every week. The current Tindle business plan threatens to let once award-winning newspapers dwindle and die."

The strike has won massive support from the local community, and the NUJ strikers produced a video in support of their campaign to secure a return to proper journalistic staffing and output on their papers.

The striking journalists staged a mock funeral procession through Enfield in North London to mark the slow death of their newspapers, where non-replacement of staff means three reporters are producing nine newspapers every week.

Jonathan Lovett urged people in Enfield and elsewhere to write to Sir Ray Tindle to back the NUJ call for more staff on the group's newspapers. He said the journalists would end their action if they were given one more reporter and guarantees that staff would be replaced.

He added:

"This feels like the last stand for quality journalism in the borough. We've got just three reporters putting out nine newspapers. The strike was a last option."

Barry Fitzpatrick said:

"This strike is proof that journalists care. This is the frontline in a battle going on throughout the regional press."

The journalists say that an inferior product is being delivered to readers and advertisers, because management refuses to replace staff. Management at the strikebound newspaper group has written to the strikers warning of possible redundancies. The letters were delivered to staff the night before they began their strike.

Barry Fitzpatrick said:

"This is a dispute that should not be happening. If this business is to have a future it must rely on the quality of journalism and sufficient staff to produce the titles. We are concerned that management is responding to a serious issue by making an apparent threat of redundancies at this late hour.
"This approach is not addressing the issues at the heart of the dispute, which are non-replacement of staff and the quality of local journalism. Certainly, management's action can only make matters worse."

The journalists have won support from local MPs. Nick De Bois, Conservative MP for Enfield North, said:

"I am very concerned about the issues raised by staff at these papers. Residents in Enfield are proud to have – and deserve to continue getting – such a good quality, campaigning newspaper that can boast a distinctive style. We must remember what an important role regional newspapers play in the local community."

Andy Love, Labour MP for Edmonton, said:

"I've watched the standard of these papers drop over past months with great sadness. I believe that the local journalists are under additional pressures due to the reductions in staff and the number of papers they are expected to produce. This leaves them less able to investigate and evaluate stories, which not only affects quality, it affects community accountability as well."

North London & Herts Newspapers publishes: The Enfield Advertiser, The Edmonton Advertiser, The Winchmore Hill Advertiser & Herald, The Enfield Gazette, The Barnet & Potters Bar Press, The East Barnet Press & Advertiser, The Edgware & Mill Hill Press, The Hendon & Finchley Press and The Haringey Advertiser.

Tags: , ray tindle, newspapers, north london and herts newspapers, strike