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Walkout in Darlington and ballot in York hit Newsquest

Mandatory meeting in Darlington

Mandatory meeting in Darlington  -  © Private

6 January 2009

Newsquest North East suffered a double blow yesterday when journalists on the Northern Echo walked out of work and NUJ members in York voted to strike.

NUJ members at Newsquest's Darlington centre walked out of the newsroom at midday on Monday in protest about job cuts and a pay freeze. About 60 people attended the NUJ mandatory chapel meeting and did not return to work. Further union meetings are planned for today and tomorrow.

Chris Morley, NUJ regional organiser, said:

"People have simply had enough of the disregard with which Newsquest views local journalism. A fine institution of the North East is being eroded by management that is more interested in maintaining big profits than serving the local community."

The NUJ chapel called on David Coates, the managing director of Newsquest North East, who is responsible for the changes being made at Darlington, and the editor of the paper, Peter Barron, to address the meeting. David Coates refused. Peter Barron spent 75 minutes taking questions from union members.

The company had asked for £375,000 savings from editorial budgets, which equated to 17 jobs. The chapel brought the total number down to 11: eight people left voluntarily and three were made compulsorily redundant.

NUJ members at Newsquest in York have voted to take strike action over the threat of compulsory redundancies at the paper. Members voted 85 per cent in favour of strike action over the compulsory redundancy threat.

In a separate ballot, members voted by 72 per cent to take other forms of industrial action to fight a pay freeze imposed by the company. Union members will meet later this week to decide on the next stages in their campaign.

Tags: , newsquest, pay freeze, newspapers, cuts, york, darlington, mandatory meetings, northern echo, ballot, local newspapers