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Southampton strikes back at Newsquest empire

6 January 2011

Journalists in Southampton are holding a three-day strike against troubled employer Newsquest in a long-running dispute over pay. The strike runs until tomorrow.

The action follows two widely-supported strike campaigns in November. The NUJ has attempted for nearly a year to negotiate a settlement to the pay dispute, which has led to stoppages across the Newsquest empire in the UK.

Negotiations at conciliation service ACAS, and a union offer to take the dispute to arbitration, have so far failed to move the company towards resolution of the issue. Journalism in Newsquest is low paid – but that is not the case for the parent group's senior management.

Last year, the highest paid director got a 21.5 per cent pay rise. The reality for those producing Newsquest titles is very different. Senior reporters only earn £21,900. Staff on minimum pay bandings have not received previously agreed loyalty payments of up to £1,500. A long-running pay freeze has amounted to a pay cut in real terms.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, praised the determination of Newsquest journalists in Southampton and across the American-owned empire to fight for a fair deal.

"Across the Newsquest group our members are saying that they've had enough. Newsquest continues to make huge profits for its American owners – operating profit for Gannett UK was £71.7million for 2009 compared to a loss of £462,000 in 2008.
"Gannett can't expect to continue to gorge itself at the expense of hardworking and underpaid professional journalists. Newsquest shareholders must soon realise that their directors are leading the group into a cul de sac of confrontation which will cost them dearly."

The NUJ is urging journalists and other trade unionists to express support for the Southampton strikers.

Tags: , southampton, gannett, strike, local newspapers, pay and conditions, newsquest, pay, newspapers