Friday, May 23, 2008

Hughes the man who can solve this?

We are urging readers of The Press and the Gazette & Herald, and supporters and union members, to email Newsquest York managing director Steve Hughes to return to the table with a decent pay offer to resolve this dispute. Please email Steve at

Below are two letters that have been sent to Steve by supporters:

Local community will suffer
Dear Steve,
I'm emailing you to express my support for the journalists currently on strike at the Press and concern that a once much valued local paper has been reduced to treating its staff so badly. As a York resident for over 14 years I have always relied on the journalists working for the Press to keep me informed about what is happening in my community in an informative and relevant way. As a charity fundraiser and musician I am only too aware that without coverage in The Press the cultural and social life of York would be greatly impoverished. Without sufficient properly paid and committed journalists covering local issues and events you simply cannot produce a paper that should properly be seen as a keystone of our city and as such the relevance (and readership) of The Press will disappear. As an employer I feel it is demeaning to your staff to offer a 3% pay rise when real inflation is over 4% and food inflation is over 10%. We in the charity sector have recognised that you really do get what you pay for in the end and it is both exploitative and self defeating to expect staff to work in these conditions. As a company that makes a considerable profit off the hard work of your employees I can see no reason why you feel the need to adopt your current position other than sheer greed. I therefore very much hope you will recognise the legitimacy of your employees position and revise your pay offer, allowing the journalists of the Press to return to what they does best, providing relevant local coverage and comment on all aspects of York life. Yours sincerely
Chris Farrell

Journalists worth more

Steve, Like many journalists, I am shocked that members of the NUJ at the Press are being forced to take strike action in protest at your refusal to meet their claim for a fair and decent pay rise and recognise the challenging, but incredibly important, work they do to make your newspaper what it is. Having worked for Newsquest in the past, I guess you will be telling the local reps that there's nothing you can do and that your hands are tied. I also imagine your bosses are claiming this is a local dispute that must be settled by local negotiation. This is a disgrace and an insult to hardworking journalists who give their all to earn respect and standing in the communities they serve, not to mention the profits they help to generate for Newsquest and its parent company - profits, I might add, which are for the most part taken out of the local economy in York. I urge you to reconsider your position and pay your journalists what they are worth.
Richard Simcox
Assistant secretary
NUJ Press and PR