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January 3, 2018

Second day of strike action at Swindon Advertiser in protest at £19k pay rate for some senior reporters

By James Walker

Journalists at the Swindon Advertiser are on strike over “poverty pay” and job cuts at the Newsquest-owned title.

The strike organised by the National Union of Journalists began yesterday and will continue until the end of today.

Pictures from the picket line show NUJ members holding up signs reading “Fair Pay for Adver Journos” and “Small Picket? Small Team!”  

In a statement released at the start of the strike, the NUJ national organiser Laura Davison said: “We had brilliant turn out this morning with support from colleagues from Bristol, Oxford and London, plus visits from Labour councillors and activists who brought us flapjacks.

“Our message is being heard loud and clear that local journalists deserve fair pay for the vital job they do.”

The Advertiser as a daily sale of 9,000 copies (at 65p). Its website attracts some 38,000 daily unique browsers according to ABC.

A chapel spokesman added: “It’s been an amazing day. We could never have imagined the level of support we have received from people today. It has buoyed us on and strengthened our resolve.”

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The strike follows Newsquest proposals to make five staff members redundant, including three content managers and two editors.

According to a statement from the Swindon NUJ Chapel announcing the strike, senior reporters are paid £19,000 to £20,000 per year. The chapel also said one junior reporter left the paper due to poor pay.

Press Gazette understands that 12 picketers are outside the Swindon Advertiser offices today, including six reporters, but more were protesting yesterday.

The strike started on the first day in his new job for editor Pete Gavan.

The latest accounts available on Companies House for Newsquest Oxfordshire and Wiltshire show that the company posted a profit of £3.3 million on turnover of £24m in 2016.

In a story about the strike published by the Swindon Advertiser website, the managing director of Wiltshire Newsquest Chris Moore said: “We are disappointed that the NUJ has taken this stance and it seems they are not in touch with the real world and oblivious to the huge pressures on the economics of local newspapers.

“Despite the fact that Swindon’s revenues are declining by more than 10pc, the staff there received a pay increase just four months ago. We are of course happy to continue to have meaningful discussions with the NUJ in order to resolve this issue.”

Picture: Peter Robins

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