Newsquest journalists in South London have called an end to their long-running campaign of industrial action after reaching an ‘amicable agreement’with management.
In a statement today mother of chapel Thais Portilho-Shrimpton said the company had agreed to replace any vacancies that occur over the next six months and to retain two extra editorial positions. The offer was accepted by the majority of NUJ members.
Thirty-three journalists began their second strike in the space of a month on Monday but returned to work today and called off the last two days of what was initially intended to be a four-day strike.
Members have also ended the campaign of working to rule that had been in place since 15 April.
Portilho-Shrimpton said the agreement was reached following “two days of meaningful negotiations which led to an agreement acceptable to both parties”.
NUJ member began working to rule after Newquest began making pagination cuts across Newsquest’s Guardian series of papers, the Surrey Comet and the Richmond & Twickenham Times.
In May they passed a vote of no confidence in two of the company’s senior management, managing director Roger Mills and advertising director Dene Stuart.
On 15 June they began a two-day strike – protesting against plans to cut nine editorial jobs and close its sports and leisure department – in which striking members dressed as cowboys and cowgirls and carried ‘wanted’ posters claiming Newsquest was responsible for the “death of local journalism”.
NUJ head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said: ‘The outcome of this dispute shows the need for management to work together with the NUJ to tackle the problems of the newspaper industry.
‘This is the first NUJ dispute with Newsquest in which the group’s management has been willing to sit round the table with the union to reach agreement.
“That reflects the impressive achievement of our NUJ chapel in recruiting so many journalists into the union, and then negotiating a settlement from a position of strength.
‘NUJ members at Newsquest in South London deserve our highest praise for their determination to see this dispute through to a satisfactory conclusion..
‘The NUJ is committed to the survival of local newspapers, but we need the co-operation of managements across the industry to ensure that.”
The latest development comes a week after NUJ members at Tindle Newspapers‘ Enfield division ended their industrial action after reaching an agreement with management.
Under the terms of that agreement Tindle agreed to reverse its policy of non-replacement of staff.