Regional journalists join forces to fight job cuts
1 December 2008
An emergency meeting of union reps from across the local newspaper industry this weekend backed plans for a wave of protests and industrial action in the coming weeks. NUJ reps from Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror, and Newsquest launched the campaign against the cuts at the emergency meeting at the union's London headquarters.
A day of action against the cuts is to be organised. Union reps also pledged to co-ordinate campaigns across workplaces to fight imposed and unwarranted pay freezes.
The calls came as new figures revealed the scale of the jobs crisis facing the industry. The NUJ said that media owners are guilty of grand larceny and reckless cost-cutting as the figures revealed hundreds of jobs were being cut at profitable newspaper groups.
Research carried out by the NUJ over the past seven days showed that more than 500 journalists posts have been axed or left unfilled at local newspaper groups since June. More than 30 local newspaper offices have been closed and 50-plus titles closed.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:
"Instead of greater investment in quality online content, more localised coverage and strengthened editorial teams, for years the vast profits of local newspapers have been largely shovelled in to shareholders pockets, directors' pay rises and executive pension pots, amidst reckless borrowing and poor investment decisions.
"Now the very people who plunged the industry in to this crisis by demanding such excessive profits believe the solution is to axe journalists and freeze pay. They were spectacularly wrong in the past and are spectacularly wrong again. It is a false economy to put the ability to deliver scoops, quality content and strong local coverage in jeopardy.
"Local newspapers in print and online remain viable and profitable businesses. We can't stand by and see this profiteering destroy our industry. The question needs to be asked what have they done with the billions of pounds of profits in the last 10 years?
"If you ran your family budgets in such a way you would risk ending up homeless and penniless. It is right to ask then are these people fit to run an industry which is so important to local communities".
The union has urged editors to work alongside journalists to defend editorial independence and integrity.
The reps at the emergency meeting agreed to:
- Co-ordinate industrial action against compulsory redundancies
- Organise a union-wide day of action and a series of protests and activities against job cuts and pay freezes around key company and industry events.
- Expose instances of shareholder and management greed
- Build community-based Stand up for Journalism campaigns
- Lobby the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament and National Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland calling on them to back the fight to stop job cuts and save local media.