Yorkshire strikers thank local community for support
6 May 2009
Journalists who were recent on strike for 13 days are to walk into Leeds city centre this afternoon to hand out thank you letters to the people of West Yorkshire.
NUJ members from the Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post and Leeds Weekly News want to show their appreciation for the support they received during the thirteen days of strike action over compulsory redundancies.
They have chosen today because it is the last day their strike ballot is valid under UK law.
The leaflet reads:
"Those 13 days demonstrating outside the building were long and cold, but we were kept warm by the spirit and solidarity we showed each other and the wonderful support shown to us by the great West Yorkshire public.
"To know that our readers were right behind us was an enormous boost. It also left management in no doubt about what you all think about their ongoing programme of cuts.
"Sadly, some of our colleagues have been made redundant and more remain at risk. Those that remain at the papers are struggling with ever-increasing workloads, stress levels and uncertainty about the future.
"Despite this, the National Union of Journalists has scored several successes from the strike. Two colleagues, both at risk of redundancy, have been found jobs elsewhere; progress is being made on a job-share, which will keep another colleague in the building; and the company's redundancy timetable has been completely derailed.
"On top of this, a new level of strength and togetherness has been found among what was already a tightly bonded union. We will need this as we strive to deliver the quality papers you all deserve in the face of the difficult times we all know lie ahead.
"Once again, thank you. We believe the company will be back to make more cuts, and, when it does, we will down tools and strike. It gives us great heart to know that, when we do, you, our readers, will be standing alongside us."
Pete Lazenby, father of the NUJ Evening Post chapel, said:
"The people of Leeds were fantastic – constantly tooting their horns in support as they passed our picket line.
"But I also want to thank other trades unionists for their backing.
"Over the past 20 years journalists in Leeds have done what we can to support other workers on strike with contributions from our fighting fund.
"But we were amazed at the level of generosity shown to us when our turn came.
"The help we received included £10 from a pensioner, £50 from a retired miner who remembered the NUJ helping them when they were on strike over pit closures, right up to more than a £1,000 collected at the Guardian chapel and everything in between.
"The national union played an enormous part with financial and other support.
"And there were individual union members who came from other workplaces to the picket line with chocolate cakes, flasks of tea and packets of biscuits.
"Only people who have been on strike can really appreciate the boost to morale created by these acts of generosity.
"Our chapel will be there in the future when others need help."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, said:
"I would like to thank the Yorkshire Post, Evening Post and Weekly News chapel for taking the fight to their employers Johnston Press.
"While they were holding strikes the company backed down from demanding compulsory redundancies in places like Derry and Lancashire.
"The support in Leeds and across the country showed that people understand the important role of regional media in a democratic and cohesive society.
"The national union was proud to support the Yorkshire strike and will support other chapels who want to stand up for journalists and journalism."
During the strike, NUJ members produced a series of videos.