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June 23, 2015

News Shopper journalists join London Newsquest strike seeking ‘London Living Wage and an office to work in’

By William Turvill

Staff on the News Shopper yesterday joined Newsquest colleagues in South London on strike over pay, staffing, redundancies and a plan to place 16 weekly newspapers under a single managing editor.

Journalists based in Sutton started their 12-day strike on Thursday last week, after 14 editorial positions were put at risk of redundancy.

The National Union of Journalists said that negotiations had been held with Newsquest, at the arbitration service ACAS, “where some movement was made, for example agreeing to pay the London Living Wage and signing new house agreements”. But the union said: “On Friday management said that when negotiations resume they would have to start from the beginning.”

A News Shopper NUJ chapel spokesman said: "If management were trying to scare us, then it has backfired. We are even more determined to take action.

“The fact that we have to go on strike to get a London Living Wage for some of our colleagues and an office to work in is incredible."

In a message of support, the News Guild-CWA in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico sent the following statement:

What these journalists are fighting for, we are all fighting for. Our members face exactly this kind of greed and arrogance from Gannett and other corporate media owners.

“They reward top executives with fat salaries and bonuses but plead poverty when it comes to raises for employees, even though they are working harder than ever.

“In the strongest possible terms, the Guild calls upon Newsquest/Gannett to show its employees the respect they deserve by paying them fair wages, maintaining adequate staffing levels, ending the constant cycle of cuts and reinvesting in its news products.

“The company fails to understand that the disrespect they are showing to their workers is disrespect to their readers, their customers. You simply cannot keep doing more, or even the same amount of work, or the same quality of work, with eviscerated staffs whose remaining workers are  exhausted, stressed and fearful that their job will be the next one to go.”

The NUJ is calling for a 3 per cent salary increase and changes to the reorganisation affecting titles in south and south east London.

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