Thursday, May 15, 2008

They were the best of times...

The NUJ has a proud history as a democratic and fighting trade union - it celebrated its 100th birthday last year. What we didn't know until today, and we learn thanks to one knowledgeable supporter, was that our action continues a proud tradition among York journalists.

It turns out that the very first strike by NUJ members was staged by workers at the Yorkshire Herald, the distant predecessor of The Press, in 1911. Apparently working conditions there were "Dickensian"... This nugget can be found in Journalists: 100 years of the NUJ by Tim Gopsill, editor of the Journalist magazine, and Greg Neale.

We're glad to be carrying on this proud tradition...

Striking display of support

The chapel has been buoyed by the many messages of support we have received so far from fellow journalists and trade unionists. Many thanks to all and please keep them coming. Here's just a selection:

"Well done and good luck with the strike. Hopefully we at Leeds will be sending you a donation. Regards to all."

"All the best with your strike action. I think five days is definitely the way to go. The odd day does not hurt their operations enough. All the publishers are crying poverty this year, but they always do - in good times and bad - and we all know they can afford more than 3%. All the best from the ncjMedia chapel (Chronicle, Journal, Sunday Sun in Newcastle)."

"All the very best of luck in your dispute. We are going through a period of change and redundancies here in Johnston Press at the moment – admin, sales and editorial staff."

"Dear fellow NUJ members. Just wanted to send a note expressing my support for your action in calling the local management to account. I see from the NUJ mailing that although it may be decades since I was last involved in an NUJ local dispute, management attitudes and behaviour have not changed one bit."

"Dear Union Colleagues. As a BECTU representative I would like to pass on a message of support from our branch to our NUJ colleagues at the Press and Gazette & Herald who are currently experiencing such shabby treatment from management. We hope your industrial action brings an improvement in the situation and that the dispute can be resolved speedily in your favour."

Scargill backs journalists' strike

Probably Britain's most famous trade unionist, former miners' leader Arthur Scargill, visited York a week before our strike. He was in the city to attend a meeting of the Socialist Labour Party, which he leads, but he found time to give a message of support to NUJ members at Newsquest York as they prepared to head to the picket line. He said:

"As someone who has been the victim of press media over the years, I can give this assurance: I will practise what I preach and on behalf of the Socialist Labour Party, we will be on the picket line supporting the journalists."