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Yorkshire Post Newspapers journalists walk out

19 February 2009

NUJ members at Yorkshire Post Newspapers have walked out of work on the first of two four-day strikes against job cuts. NUJ members at the group voted overwhelmingly for action in a secret ballot after their Johnston Press bosses demanded compulsory redundancies.

Thursday and Friday's strikes will each day culminate with rallies at 4pm outside the company's headquarters on Wellington Street in Leeds. The NUJ has learned that the Press Association (PA) news agency at Howden is planning to supply extra work to the company during the stoppage.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern Regional Organiser, said:

"We are not surprised that PA is setting itself up to be an electronic strikebreaker while our members at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post take a principled stand for quality journalism.
"After all, PA has form for this and has been caught out previously touting for business when it last looked like there would be industrial action at Leeds. PA management are not noted for their willingness to invest in journalism, as shown by the levels of pay for their journalists.
"Any attempt by PA to fill the huge gap left by our members out on strike will be the equivalent of secondary action by Yorkshire Post Newspapers bosses.
"This shows how the laws governing strikes do nothing to promote fairness in the workplace because this activity would be unlawful for a trade union.
"But NUJ members are no fools and our members at Leeds will be supported by their union colleagues –staff and freelances – throughout the country – but particularly in and around Yorkshire."

John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser, said:

"The chapel would be grateful if freelances were unavailable for work during the days of the action. Any freelance who experiences hardship as a result of being unavailable should contact the chapel."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, who will be visiting the picket line tomorrow, said:

"The strike action in Yorkshire is at the heart of our campaign to fight cutbacks across the media.
"I would ask all NUJ members at PA and at other Johnston Press titles to do nothing to undermine the action by journalists on the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post.
"The union will support anyone who finds themselves in difficulty for supporting the strikers."

Supporters are urged to visit the picket line in Leeds between 7am and 6pm on Thursday and Friday and between 7am and 2pm on Saturday. Banners are particularly welcome at the evening rallies.

A number of local celebrities have promised to visit the strikers and playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn has already been in touch.

The strike HQ and refreshment base will be The Steps bar, on York Place, about 400 yards from the office. The bar is donating a barrel of beer to the strikers, and Leeds brewery, a new independent, is donating two more.

Tags: , strike, johnston press, newspapers, press association, yorkshire evening post, yorkshire post, howden, picket, cuts, redundancies, freelance, strikebreaking