Journalists working for Newsquest in Brighton and Southampton have today started a second 48-hour strike in protest at job cuts and the ongoing pay freeze across the regional publishing business.
At the Brighton Argus staff are taking industrial action in protest at management plans to move the paper’s sub-editing operation to Southampton, with the loss of six jobs locally.
Union members at the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton are resuming strike action after a previous two-day walkout in November over Newsquest’s ongoing pay freeze and refusal to pay individual loyalty payments (Brighton journalists also walked out for the first time last month).
The Argus branch of the NUJ is documenting today’s protest by uploading pictures to its strike blog and is using Twitter in a bid to get 1,500 signatures on its ‘Keep The Brighton Argus Local’ petition by the end of the strike (The Argus has also set up a strike page on Facebook).
According to the NUJ, 40 staff at the Southern Daily Echo (approximately 75 per cent of the editorial team) plan to be on the picket line outside the Daily Echo office in Test Lane, Redbridge today.
Tomorrow the protest shifts to Southampton city centre (near the Bargate monument) from noon where staff will sing Christmas songs and hand out leaflets explaining they are on strike.
Sally Churchward, secretary of the NUJ chapel at the Southern Daily Echo said: “We are very sorry to find ourselves with no option but to strike again.
‘We have accepted years of below inflation pay rises and a pay freeze last year. We are all very proud of the Echo and do not wish to harm the paper or its reputation but feel we have to make a stand against the ongoing pay freeze, especially when a senior executive has been given a 21.5 per cent pay rise and the company has announced pre-tax profits of £88.5m.”
Last week, Newsquest Oxford became the first to indicate its willingness to ballot on a possible nationwide walkout in relation to the pay freeze and the fact that senior executives at the company are benefiting from increased pay.