Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When the strikers went marching in...

We returned to work today with our heads held very high indeed. About 20 strikers gathered in a car park close to Newsquest York's offices just before 9am and marched in to the offices en masse - still united, still strong and still fighting.

Joint Fathers of Chapel Tony Kelly and Sam Southgate immediately presented managing director Steve Hughes with a petition signed by 900 readers and residents demanding fair pay for journalists at The Press and the Gazette & Herald.

This was the inspiring message to members from Tony

We returned to work today not in doom nor gloom, but in a positive, vibrant mood. We have not won our battle yet - it may well take quite a while - but we are already winners because we have shown such a unity of spirit, defiance, commitment and togetherness.

Can any of us have been prouder to be members of the National Union of Journalists than during our brave and concerted action throughout the York chapel’s five-day strike? No.

We might take some knocks in the next few days or weeks, but we have to remember the five days between May 22 and 26 when, as one, we supported each other, worked for each other, looked out for each other and revelled in each other’s determination not to be brow-beaten or bullied or battered

We now have a chapel of strength. We now have a chapel of character. We now have a chapel of purpose.

Those five days have given us that. They have earned respect across the city of York, across the union nationally, across the industry country-wide.

The taboo of taking industrial action has been shattered. There is no need to fear it. Provided we stick together we can embrace the notion of fighting legitimately for our rights and steadfastly pressing our claims for fair pay and better working conditions.

As said before, our stoppage reinforced our status as winners. Now let’s go on to even more memorable

Making news in cyberspace

Our campaign continues to attract attention and support.

We reported how NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear visited the picket line on Saturday morning. He has written about his experience on his blog He says:

"There's a fantastic spirit about the strike and a determination to win a fair pay deal. I was happy to be able to deliver a show of support for the strikers and importantly pledge cash to them from the union's fighting fund."
Michelle Stanistreet, the NEC member for newspapers and agencies, who visited the picket line on Monday, has also paid testament to the spirit among the strikers on her blog She says:

"We need to keep up the fight for decent pay for journalists on highly profitable local papers. The York chapel is showing us the way. I can empathise with the people I spoke to today who are struggling to pay off student loans and find accommodation in an expensive area. The spirit of determination, unity and fun on the picket line was a lesson for the union as a whole. I was delighted to see the Stand Up For Journalism banner on display – as well resourced, motivated journalists are vital for a community like York. It was great to see that the chapel has the support of many local people – including the councillors and MP John Grogan who turned up on a bank holiday to show their support."
There's also a new article in the newspaper Socialist Worker by Frank Ormston, a local TSSA union rep who visited the picket line a number of times.

And we've had the following messages of support, one from our Business Editor who was sunning himself in warmer climes during the strike:

Feeling part of it
Well done all. The blog is fantastic. I really felt part of it from all this distance away. I know it's hard to believe, but I wished I was there. This is just the start of the battle. Fraternal greetings from paradise.
Ron Godfrey

Support for justice quest
Dear comrades, On behalf of all the 22,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union employed in the South West of England may I extend to you and all your fellow strikers our total support in your dispute to obtain justice for your members. If there is any practical help or support we can provide, please do not hesitate to get in touch, Yours fraternally
David A Millar
South West Regional Secretary, PCS