Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Moving, motivating messages

Some of the solidarity messages we've been receiving have been incredibly moving. Thanks to all who have sent their support to Five days is a long time to be out on the line. We'll be checking messages throughout so please keep them coming. Here's the latest:

"Until last week, my proudest moment in trades unionism was when the news came through that union recognition at the then York Evening Press had been secured, after a 20 year gap, by an overwhelming majority. Having been given the honour of jointly leading the fledgling chapel, it was inspiring to know that there was shared belief in trades unionism and the power that the workers can have. That moment was surpassed when I heard that York Press members had voted to strike for five days. That vote showed that the seeds sown by Tony K, Dave S, myself and all the other members had grown into the strong, united and active chapel we always knew they would. As you step into your action tomorrow, do not do so with any fear. Do so in the knowledge that there is strength in solidarity, that the workers have more influence than they often realise and that management - despite the impression they try and give - are hugely wary of an organised and united workforce. Everyone in our industry works extremely hard, a contribution of labour that generates enormous profits for the people at the top of the tree. We have never asked for the earth, only a fair, living wage, that reflects the effort we make, and good working conditions in which to operate. If these are not forthcoming, then the workers' strongest tool is the withdrawal of their labour. It is your right to do this - do not for one second feel guilty, scared, or that you are doing something wrong. Modern industrial action can be placed in the line of a long, British tradition, dating back to the Tolpuddle Martyrs, through the Jarrow Marchers and the Miners, up to modern day actions, such as those seen recently at the Express and Star newspapers. You are far from alone. See you on the picket line."

"All the best from the Herald chapel in Glasgow. A cheque's on the way as a small token of our support. Take heart from the fact that we took Newsquest on last year and forced them to back down over compulsory redundancies. They're back for more jobs this year and we've told them we'll pull the place down round their ears if they try to target a single NUJ member. More power to your arm. Your fight's everyone's fight. The small-minded beancounters who run Newsquest don't deserve to own British newspapers.""

On behalf of Edinburgh Freelance Branch, I'd like to wish you and all your members good luck in your pay dispute with Newsquest. Here in Scotland, we've seen the way the company operates, putting profit before people at The Herald and Evening Times in Glasgow, undermining hard-earned journalistic standards and damaging morale. By standing up against Newsquest, you are standing up for journalists across the country. Have strength!"

"Good luck with your strike action I am fully behind you as a member of the NUJ."

"Best wishes and our solidarity to you for the industrial action your chapel will be taking from Thursday. Our chapel members have had a 3% pay increase imposed on most of this year - apart from a chosen few - because there is no collective bargaining agreement. However, we are hoping to change that very soon as we are in the middle of a union recognition claim and we are hopeful that within a month or two the NUJ will be recognised and will be able to fight for better pay and conditions for the 43 NUJ members at the South Wales Evening Post. Can you pass on solidarity greetings too from the Swansea and District branch of the NUJ"

"Greetings all at the York Press. Just a note to congratulate you on your firm stand so far, to wish you all the best in the upcoming strike action and to send a strong message of support."

"Good luck with your action, it's good to know people are still prepared to fight for what they deserve."

"I'm a freelance journalist from Scotland. As someone who worked for Newsquest in Glasgow at The Herald until recently, I understand your grievances against a company who's practices are doing nothing to enhance quality journalism and, furthermore, are detrimental to democracy. I congratulate all of you for taking this stand and I fully support your cause.""Congratulations on a superb campaign. The insulting pay offer you have received shows just how divorced from reality Gannett bosses really are. Having lived in York for five years and having worked with Press journalists on an almost daily basis I know what a committed and talented bunch of people you all are - making the Press a vibrant community newspaper that serves the city very well. I also know though how expensive it became to live there and how the recent economic troubles have added to those costs - so the pay claim you are making is a very modest one. So good luck with your strike and respect and solidarity."

"We are just about to start pay talks in Sheffield, so it is especially good to see someone fighting for a living wage! None of us can afford to settle for derisory pay 'increases', especially with the credit crunch and cost of living price rises. It's about time our bosses felt it in their pockets, rather than the workers having to pay for their share dividends yet again. Best wishes from Sheffield; let us know what we can do to help."

"Good luck with your strike. I've found, as a previous Glasgow Newsquest employee, it's the only action Newsquest listens to!"

"All the best for your strike at the Press and the weekly Gazette & Herald. Although working in a separate sector, and a different geographical area, the outcome of your action will have huge implications for us and every other member of the union. With the financial situation worsening, employers across the publishing world are going all out to cut costs, staffing levels and reduce our pay and conditions. Not a week goes by in London's magazine sector without more bad news on redundancies and below-inflation pay increases. But there is also growing resistance. A victory for you will boost confidence to increase that resistance."

"As a life member of the NUJ - and a former provincial journalist with the Bolton Evening News for over 30 years, all the very best of luck for Thursday. I remember being out on strike for over 8 weeks during the big provincial newspaper dispute in the 70's, and running as it did thru' Christmas. It's hard but worth it. You are drawn closer together and gain great strength for your cause. I hope to be able to pop down to your picket line sometime during the strike."

"We'd like to express our solidarity with editorial staff at the Press, who are doing our profession proud by standing up to their greedy bosses. We don't have a chapel here in Northamptonshire, but we do have a growing NUJ membership of journalists who are fed up with poor pay offers and terrible working conditions. I do know some of your contingent from my time at the Selby Times, so I know you all do a grand job and deserve a decent salary to reflect the great standard of journalism at the Press. All the best with the strike. I do hope you will get the positive outcome you are hoping for. NUJ members at the Northants Evening Telegraph."

"I am a freelance member of the NUJ in Dewsbury. I am writing to let you know that as your strike action begins my thoughts and support are with you. I have been a journalist for 19 years and understand fully that pay and conditions have deteriorated to a level that is not right. I hope fully that as a result of your strike action the managers and directors will wake up and realise the value of your work every day. We live in tough times and our democratic and free country is facing more and more challenges than ever before. I fully support your strike and hope that managers and directors at Newsquest in York will stop the hoarding of cash and profits and become willing to pay and reward you better for the work that you do. I'm sorry that I do not have the cash to support you during your strike action. But I trust that you will gain some moral support from my email. I shall also be writing to the directors of Newsquest to cast shame upon them. Our industry of newspaper journalism is one of the most important industries in a free society and yet in recent years journalists have tolerated hardship, low wages, long hours and have landed at the very bottom of the pay scale in some cases being paid less than supermarket checkout staff. I know that you will all be losing money for your strike but have hope as you are all doing your bit to improve pay and working conditions and your strike has to be applauded as you are sending a clear message out to companies that you deserve the fees and the security for the work that you do at Newsquest. With best wishes. I hope that the sun shines for you over the days of your industrial action and that you received plenty of backing. Also I hope deeply that as a result of your strike action that you achieve the results and improvements in pay and conditions that you are looking for. I shall be rooting for you."