Support Yorkshire journalists' dispute

13 Jan 2002

One out, all out

National Union of Journalists members at a series of Bradford-based papers have voted to take strike action on three days this month. They will stay away from work on the morning of Wednesday 16 January, and all day on Friday 25 January and Thursday 31 January - unless management increase a pay offer of 2.5 percent.

In a ballot held just before Christmas more than 80 percent voted for strike action. At a well-attended chapel (workplace branch) meeting on 7 January just one person voted against the walkouts. No-one abstained. Managing director Tim Blott was given permission to address the meeting - but his appeal for journalists to accept the 2.5 percent offer failed to win the chapel over.

The union's national executive agreed unanimously to support the dispute at its meeting on 11 January.

On Wednesday 16 January chapel members will be picketing the offices of the Telegraph and Argus in Hall Ings, central Bradford, the T&A branch office in Shipley, and the offices of the Keighley News, the Ilkley Gazette, the Craven Herald in Skipton, and the Wharfedale Observer in Otley. The papers are owned by Newsquest - the UK arm of the US media giant Gannett.

How you can help

The chapel would obviously appreciate it if any freelances asked to cover at Newsquest titles were unavailable. Any freelances who suffer hardship while being unavailable should get in touch and we'll see what can be done.

The chapel needs money to pay for campaign material and to help cover the wages people will lose by striking. Please urge your union branch, political party, community group, church, or other organisation to make a donation or hold a whip round. Management have promised strikebreakers a bonus and threatened to dock a whole day's pay during Wednesday's half day stoppage. Cheques should be made payable to "Newsquest Bradford NUJ Chapel" and sent to Newsquest Bradford NUJ Chapel, 22 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JQ. Individual donations are also welcome, however small.

NUJ members and any other trades unionists will be very welcome to visit the picket lines and offer support. Bring your banners!

Send polite protests about the low pay in Bradford (see details below) to Newsquest's UK boss: info@newsquest.co.uk

It only takes a minute to send a message of support. But these can be very uplifting to people standing in the cold on a picket line. Please send your greetings before the walk out to sarah@casamft.freeserve.co.uk and/or bobsmith2001@btopenworld.com

Please alert as many people as possible to this.

Why you should care

Wages for local newspaper journalists in the UK are scandalously low. Bosses say they don't need to pay more because plenty of people apply for jobs. Victory in Bradford and in other centres will help push the rate up in other papers.

Trainee managers at McDonalds in the UK on their first day in work, when they know nothing, earn £17,000pa. Most newly qualified senior local paper journalists - who have at least two years experience and all their professional qualifications - earn less than that.

NUJ members at Newsquest (Bradford) earn on average 20 percent less than the official UK average wage. They submitted a claim for a 7.5 percent rise, an extra day's holiday, and improved sick pay and mileage rates. The mileage rate was cut last month by 1.5p.

  • Graduates start on as little as £10,500pa.
  • Last year Newsquest (Bradford) made £6 million.
 
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