York journalists hold 12-hour strike in protest at job cuts

Journalists at The Press in York, where seven redundancies were announced last week, held a day-long strike yesterday.

National Union of Journalists members at the Newsquest-owned title, and its weekly sister Gazette and Herald, held a chapel meeting in a nearby pub from noon until midnight yesterday.

Although meetings have been held before, yesterday’s was the first to last more than an hour.

Joint fathers of chapel Tony Kelly and Gavin Aitchison said the walkout followed the release, by managing editor Steve Hughes, of a “skills matrix” for use in the event of compulsory lay-offs.

After voting for strike action in January, NUJ members have told management they may hold industrial action every weekday between now and 30 March, when the ballot runs out of legal force.

Kelly and Aitchison said: “We have been pressing the company for nearly two months to assure our members that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

“Newsquest has failed to give that assurance, and having seen the arbitrary and unjust assessment criteria proposed by the company, the chapel decided it was time to take a stand.

“The Press and Gazette and Herald have suffered horrific cuts in recent years.

“The papers have been mismanaged and mistreated, and further cuts will only serve to further hinder our ability to serve our readers in York, North Yorkshire and East Yorkshire.

“Newsquest York has repeatedly recorded multi-million profits, which have been shipped to its parent company in the United States.

“The journalists and readers of The Press and Gazette and Herald deserve better than Newsquest is able or willing to offer.”

The seven job cuts announced last week followed eight job losses announced in June.

The editors of The Press and Gazette and Herald were made redundant last month, with Newsquest York managing director Hughes becoming managing editor for both titles.

Adam Christie, NUJ National Executive Council member for the North East of England, who attended the meeting, said: “If taking action is the only way journalists can get their voices heard, then this is what we will have to do.”

The Press walkout is the latest regional newspaper strike in the North of England.

Last week, 140 journalists at the Johnston Press-owned Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post held the first of two four-day strikes.

Last month, journalists at the Newsquest-owned Northern Echo in Darlington held a day-long chapel meeting, also in protest at redundancies.



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