Tag Archives: strike action

Stourbridge Strike Off

Strike action at Newsquest’s Stourbridge office has been cancelled.

On July 1, ten journalists – who had planned to hold industrial action over plans to move three sub- editors to a production hub 27 miles away – decided not to strike.

The Worcester sub hub will eventually produce papers including the Stourbridge News, Halesowen News, Dudley News, Kidderminster Shuttle, Bromsgrove Advertiser and Redditch Advertiser.

NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said a resolution had been reached for two members, although concerns remained over the impact of the hub.

State of Play: Why are all the strikes being cancelled?

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Group-wide strike unlikely at Johnston Press

The proposed group-wide National Union of Journalists strikes across Johnston Press look to have hit the buffers.

According to a report on HoldtheFrontPage, plans for industrial action look set to be abandoned as a number of centres across JP are unwilling to go on strike.

The strike, planned over objections to the company’s new content management system ATEX, had originally been due to take place on May 19, but had to be called off when JP obtained a last-minute injunction. The company claimed it did not actually employ any staff and that instead they were the responsibility of a number of subsidiary companies.

The original ballot had resulted in a 70 per cent yes vote for strike action, although only 346 NUJ members took part.

But now, although militancy remains high in the north of the country where the system has not yet been introduced, support seems to have waned among chapels in the south and midlands.

The NUJ is uncertain it could persuade members to take part in a national strike and will instead have to look to individual chapels to strike, notably those in Sheffield, Doncaster, Scarborough, Preston, Blackpool and South Shields.

Chris Morley, NUJ northern regional organiser, said it was up to individual chapels to decide what to do.

He said: “Nothing was decided as chapels have to consult with their own memberships and it is very much up to individual chapels on what they want to do, so any decisions will be made by them.

“Union members are unhappy about the rollout of ATEX across JP, which has led to a reduction in the number of sub-editors needed and claims of increased workloads for remaining staff.”

An insider at one of JP’s papers in the south told The Blog that support for a group-wide strike was waning in the region.

Our source said: “When the originally strike action was proposed a number of centres were already thinking of opting out and the company launched an offensive to stop those in two minds.

“A mixture of incentives – such as the lifting of the pay freeze – and threats – one managing director was heard to say, ‘they’ll really suffer if they go through with this’ – had persuaded many people it wasn’t worth it. Even if the May 19 strike had gone ahead a lot of people in this region would still have gone into work.

“Now the desire is even more muted. A lot of the more militant workers were among those made redundant and young trainees in their first job haven’t got the stomach for a fight.

“More importantly the system has bedded down a bit now and people have got used to it. There are still major problems, but there is a realisation ATEX is going nowhere. If we went on strike the company still would not get rid of this new system. It cost too much and JP doesn’t have money to throw away.

“It’s a case of get your head down and get on with your work.”

Source: HoldtheFrontPage

State of Play: Victory for JP?

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Industrial action to take place in Stourbridge

Industrial action is set to take place at Newsquest’s Stourbridge papers.

Ten NUJ members at the centre voted for the action over plans to move three journalists 30 miles away to Worcester.

The staff work on a number of papers, namely the Stourbridge News, Halesowen News, Dudley News, Kidderminster Shuttle, Bromsgrove Advertiser and Redditch Advertiser.

State of Play: Open heart surgery

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Ballot on strike action at Newsquest’s Stourbridge papers

The whiff of unrest is growing.

With Johnston Press journalists set to vote again on industrial action, spurred on by a National Union of Journalists spitting feathers after JP ran to the courts, the threat of strikes has now reared its head within Newsquest.

Ten journalists in Stourbridge are set to ballot over plans to transfer three staff to Worcester, 30 miles away. The NUJ made the announcement on Friday.

Staff believe the decision will lower the quality of those titles produced at the Stourbridge centre; namely the Stourbridge News, Halesowen News, Dudley News, Kidderminster Shuttle, Bromsgrove Advertiser and Redditch Advertiser.

NUJ organiser Chris Morley said: “The loss of experienced senior journalists from this centre would also weaken the support available to more junior staff.

“Cuts have left huge workloads on journalists and the proposals as they stand will make this worse. A reasonable, alternative strategy has been put forward by the union that would avoid the worst effects of the company’s proposals but I am not convinced that management will listen to logical arguments alone.

“Newsquest plans put both journalists and journalism at risk at Stourbridge, and our members have drawn a line in the sand to say it is not acceptable.”

State of Play: Heart attack

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Lies, damned lies and statistics?

Some interesting statistics from the Johnston Press strike action scenario.
Much has been made of the inconsistent number of journalists employed by JP.
On its website The National Union of Journalists has been keen to point out that the ‘group claims in the annual report that it employs 1,900 journalists and more than 7,000 employees’.
This is, of course, in stark contrast to the total of journalists JP told the High Court it employs – none.
The company instead argued the journalists are employed by subsidiaries.
One thing is clear, this squabbling over statistics isn’t going to solve anything: it won’t help JP pay off it’s £400m plus debts, it won’t help those subs who have already lost their jobs get them back, it won’t improve the quality of newspapers and it sure as eggs is eggs won’t make ATEX run any faster.
As Lord Judge said when summing up in his decision to overturn the ban on strike action at British Airways: “Legal processes do not constitute mitigation.
“On the contrary they often serve to inflame rather than molify the feelings of those involved.”
Having said all that there still remain some key points within those statistics.
Firstly, there is no arguement that within the JP organisation, whether employed directly by the company or by it’s subsidiaries, there are around 7,000 staff members, including 1,900 journos.
That means there are – approximately – 5,100 people employed by JP who do not write for the papers.
5,100 compared to 1,900 who do.
Doesn’t that tell us something about the priorities of JP (hint: it’s not producing high quality papers)?
But the Union doesn’t escape unscathed from the use of statistics in this case.
The first vote saw 550 members balloted on industrial action.
Turnout was 65.2 per cent, with 337 journalists voting on the issue of strike action; 236 in favour (70 per cent) and 101 against (30 per cent).
So while 70 per cent of members in favour of strike action sounds impressive, the truth is that only 236 of JP’s 1,900 journalists actually wanted to go on strike.
And perhaps more worrying for the Union, even if it achieves it’s aim and takes action, only 550 journos will hit the streets (assuming if course all Union members will rally behind the overall decision and take action).
That leaves 1,350 journalists at work.
Make of that what you will…

State of Play: Lies, damned lies and statistics?

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We will vote on action again: Jeremy Dear

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has today written to members at Johnston Press to tell them the dispute with bosses remains very much on.
The move comes after JP lawyers forced the union to call off a strike on Wednesday.
The company successfully argued that it did not employ any journalists – saying they are instead employed by subsidiaries.
Today Mr Dear wrote: ‘The NUJ has been forced to call off Wednesday’s strike action.
‘Incredibly Johnston Press ran to the High Court on Friday afternoon to block the planned action, arguing that they don’t employ any journalists.’
He added: ‘Johnston Press made this claim, despite making group-wide decisions on the recent pay freeze, pensions, and employment terms and conditions’.
Mr Dear concluded that the NUJ will re-ballot it’s members in each individual centre, as well as those in Scotland after JP refused to rule out compulsary job cuts.
The dispute centres around the company’s new ATEX content management system and concerns over pay.

State of Play: Open heart surgery

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JP strike action called off

Strike action at Johnston Press has been dramatically called off, just days before it was due to take place.
The NUJ this morning announced that a one day strike would take place next Wednesday, as revealed by The Blog on Tuesday.
But JP lawyers have blocked any action by arguing that the company doesn’t actually employ any journalists.
They have successfully argued that the journalists are actually employed by subsidiary companies across the company.
Hence the Union should have informed these companies individually of the action rather than the parent company.
Sources within the company told The Blog that managers had clearly been ‘rattled’ by the strike attempt and added that editors had been ‘pressured to persuade their staff not to strike.’
And one added that the legal action is unlikely to stop the journalists, who are upset over pay conditions and the company’s ATEX content system.
He said: “If the company thinks bully boy legal tactics will appease it’s staff it has another thing coming.
“People are atognised by this move and I suspect it will prove to be a sticking plaster rather than a solution.
“This action seems certain to happen at some stage.”

State of Play: Chaos

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