Pay battle moves to S Yorks

Journalists at Johnston Press-owned South Yorkshire Newspapers have called three days of strike action in the latest round of the National Union of Journalists' battle against low pay.

The Doncaster Free Press, Doncaster Advertiser, South Yorkshire Times, Epworth Bells, Goole Courier, Gainsborough Standard, and the Community Newsletter series will be hit by the walkouts on 12, 18, and 19 July.

The company has offered a basic pay deal of 2.75 percent and the introduction of minimum rates.

The current minimum rate for journalists with all their professional qualifications is just £16,855 per annum - around £10,000 below the average UK wage and much less than on other Johnston Press-owned weeklies in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Graduate trainees will start on as little as £12,508.

Last year Edinburgh-based Johnston Press made a record operating profit of £177.7m, and over the four previous years it has doubled its profits and paid vast sums to its shareholders and chief executive.

NUJ members voted 87 percent in favour of strike action in a secret ballot.

The 23-strong chapel (workplace branch), which won back union recognition last year, will also be starting a two-week work-to-rule on Monday July 10.

Bowl the bosses a Goole-gly

Whatever the outcome in Doncaster this strike will keep the pressure on newspaper employers to improve pay in the industry. So it is vital.

  • Please send messages of support to mother of chapel Emma Roots at emroots@yahoo.co.uk . Don't be shy - these messages make a massive difference to morale.
  • Please visit the picket lines from 7am in Doncaster and from 8am elsewhere. Banners welcome.
  • Please hold whip-rounds and encourage union branches to send donations made payable to "Doncaster Free Press NUJ chapel" to NUJ, Arthur House, Manchester, M1 3FH. These low-paid workers are losing cash - let's try to help them make it up.
  • If you are a freelance journalist asked to supply any stories or photographs to the papers affected, the staff would obviously appreciate it if you found yourself unavailable during the strikes or work-to-rule. If you suffer hardship while unavailable, contact the union.
  • Pass this information on to anyone who will be interested.

Do you remember Coventry?

This time last year journalists at Trinity Mirror-owned Coventry Newspapers were on strike over pay.

At the time the minimum rate for qualified journalists on the Coventry Evening Telegraph was £18,882.

The company has recently proposed a new pay scale which would bring in a minimum rate for qualified journalists on the paper of £20,500.

That's a rise of 8.5 percent in a year. The basic qualified rate on the Coventry Newspapers weekly titles has risen by 6.6 percent in the same period.

At the nearby Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, and Sunday Mercury - also part of Trinity Mirror - management have proposed a pay scale with a minimum qualified rate of £21,300.

Last modified: 06 July 2006 - © 2006 contributors
The Freelance editor is elected by London Freelance Branch and responsibility for content lies solely with the editor of the time
Send comments to the editor: editor@londonfreelance.org