22 June 2005

Coventry journalists' action bites

Forty-three journalists at Coventry Newspapers voted to support the strikes against low pay, which started on 17 June and are continuing.

30 July 2005

It's all out

NUJ members at Coventry Newspapers have told management they will be on strike from next Tuesday, 2 August, "until further notice". So far there have been 13 days of stoppages since 17 June.

Trinity Mirror owns the papers affected - the Coventry Evening Telegraph, Coventry Citizen, Nuneaton Tribune, Bedworth Echo, and Hinckley Times. It claims that the action is not affecting it, for example telling the Guardian Media section that "Production of our newspapers has been unaffected throughout the action."

True, the group as a whole yesterday announced that profits had increased by 13 per cent. But how does it explain the following email to a Midlands advertiser?

From: Business_Special_Projects@mrn.co.uk
Sent: 27 July 2005 13:05
To: (Name removed)
Subject: Late Opportunity

Hi (name removed)

I have been unable to contact you by phone today but didn't want you to miss out on this opportunity.

Coventry Newspapers is in the middle of an industrial dispute with some of it's journalistic team and it has allowed us to offer some of the space usually reserved for editorial.

In order to ensure we fill this empty space we are discounting our usual rates significantly for Friday and Saturday, therefore I can offer to repeat your last ad on Friday for £650.00 +vat or Saturday for £500 +vat or both days for £1050+vat.

Can you let me know if you would like to take up this offer asap.

Senior journalists on the weekly titles, with two years experience and all their professional qualifications, earn just £14,000 per year. During 2004 Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey took less than five days to earn that amount (including bonuses).

On the weeklies graduate trainees will start on as little as £11,500.

PLEASE HELP

Whatever the outcome in Coventry this dispute will keep the pressure on newspaper employers to improve pay in the industry. So it is vital for everyone.

  • Send messages of support to coventrystrikes@yahoo.co.uk. The messages read out on the picket line last week were a massive boost to morale.
  • Most importantly, hold whip-rounds and encourage branches and chapels to send donations made payable to "Coventry branch National Union of Journalists" to 4, Ribble Road, Coventry, CV3 1AU. These low paid workers are losing cash in a battle that affects everyone in the media. Low pay in papers forces the rates down in other areas.
  • Donations pledged so far include £86.52 collected at the NUJ women’s conference, £50 from former MP and NUJ member of honour Tony Benn, and £50 from the Scarborough Evening News chapel.
  • If you are a freelance journalist the Chapel would much appreciate it if you found yourself unavailable to supply any stories or photographs to the papers affected during walkouts. If you suffer hardship while being unavailable, contact the Chapel.
  • Send polite emails to sly.bailey@trinitymirror.com to point out the injustice of the situation. See the letter the Chapel send for inspiration. And please copy these, with your message of support, to coventrystrikes@yahoo.co.uk.
  • Pass this information on to anyone who will be interested.
Last modified: 29 July 2005 - © 2005 contributors
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