Thursday, May 22, 2008

Edwardian strike over 'Dickensian conditions'

The 34 NUJ members at Newsquest York are today starting their first of five days of strike action about pay at the Press and Gazette & Herald newspapers. The strike is due to end just before midnight on Bank Holiday Monday.

The dispute comes nearly 100 years after the first NUJ strike in York in 1911, where members at the York Herald - now amalgamated into the weekly title - took action over Dickensian working conditions. The chapel will be wearing Edwardian costumes on the picket line to commemorate the previous struggle, which took eleven years to resolve!

Joint Father of Chapel, Sam Southgate, said: “NUJ members at Newsquest York often feel as if we are still working in Dickensian conditions, our pay is certainly something which is stuck in the past. Currently staff at The Press and Gazette & Herald are paid considerably less than the average wage in York of £30,000. Trainee journalists start on just £13,500 a year.

"Our members feel they have been pushed into taking this action by management's refusal to negotiate. We only hope that we don't have to wait eleven years to reach a settlement."

Members are particularly angry that management will not match pay-offers given to journalists at other Newsquest centres. The below-inflation pay-offer comes against a background of increased workloads, understaffing and attacks on members’ pensions.