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July 20, 2015

NUJ reaches ‘compromise’ with Newsquest after strikes in South London including ‘living wage’ promise for trainees

By William Turvill

The National Union of Journalists and Newsquest have reached a “compromise” over planned job cuts and restructuring in South London.

Journalists working across 11 newspapers were on strike for eight working days (over a ten-day period) at the end of June over the proposed changes. They originally intended to strike for ten working days, but returned as a “goodwill gesture”.

The NUJ has been in negotiations with Newsquest since and has now announced an “amicable solution”, which will include trainees being paid the £9.15-an-hour London Living Wage.

The NUJ’s national organiser, Laura Davison, said  the union was “pleased” that an agreement has been reached over the LLW, but said the union remains “concerned that the staffing level is too low”.

According to the @CutsQuest Twitter feed, five journalists left Newsquest last week. And Holdthefrontpage reports that one other journalist left during the strike. The NUJ said that none of its members have been made compulsorily redundant. It is understood that the original cuts proposed by the company would have seen around 14 jobs lost.

Davison said: “[W]e will be monitoring the situation in the run up to the agreed three month review. In reaching this agreement I would like to pay tribute to our members who showed real commitment to local journalism and their readers.

“The chapels would like to thank and acknowledge all the support they received from NUJ members and chapels, local MPs, councillors and Assembly members and readers.”

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The Newsquest journalists based in South London went on a ten-working-day strike, but returned to work after eight days as a “goodwill gesture”.

They were particularly concerned about redundancies and the closure of the Petts Wood newsroom.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "This was a tough and hard-fought dispute and I congratulate our members who stuck to their principles and won the hearts of many in the capital.

“This deal is a promising step forward and we will see how it works out. The union will continue to campaign for quality journalism in London and will be pursuing this with the London Assembly and MPs in the south east."

Gary Kendall, managing director for Newsquest South London, said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement acceptable to both sides which satisfies our commitment to provide high quality editorial content for our print and online products in the future”. 

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