Thursday, June 12, 2008

Meeting management's challenge

Journalists at Newsquest York prepare to return from their seven-and-a-half hour mandatory chapel meeting

Today witnessed more brave and determined action from journalists in York, as their campaign for decent pay continued. More than two weeks on since our five-day strike, members were together again in the first of eight scheduled mandatory meetings.

The chapel's business started early - at 8am at York's Caffé Nero. But about 25 chapel members and our NUJ assistant regional organiser were soon in the thick of debate over the dispute and an renewed offer from management to go to independent body ACAS for mediation.

After lunch we reconvened at the Seahorse Hotel to talk through other plans for action and links with other trade unions. And, after a few hours of fruitful discussion, we made the decision to return to work.

We entered Newsquest York's office, in Walmgate, at 3.30pm en masse and, once again, in the rudest of health. Management seemed surprised to see members taking their places to get on with the day's work - especially as most journalists only had two hours left in their working day.

Unfortunately all staff - apart from three late shift workers - were told their services would not be required and were sent home. Management had brought in journalists from elsewhere to cover for their absence, including Brian Nuttney, deputy editor of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus (also a Newsquest paper).

However, positive discussions between the NUJ and managing director Steve Hughes led to an agreement that will see the chapel voluntarily suspending its planned industrial action until a mediation session with ACAS is convened early next week.

This is exactly the result the chapel wanted. We now hope management prove they are serious about resolving this dispute and will improve their derisory pay offer.