Journalists on indefinite strike in South Yorkshire look set to try to bring in the conciliation service ACAS to bring an end to the dispute.
Twenty-five journalists began taking industrial action on 15 July following a row over job losses and office closures.
Since the walkout began the NUJ claims the company has refused to hold either formal or informal negotiations with the strikers and will only talk with individual journalists – which it claims is an attempt to ‘de-collectivise and undermine’the group.
‘People want there to be a resolution, it’s not as if people enjoy the whole business,’said NUJ negotiator Lawrence Shaw.
‘They just want management to talk to them. These people seem to think that sitting negotiating with the union involves us sitting down and them telling us what to do.”
He added: ‘This has to be about recognition and negotiation.”
Later today members will vote on whether to approach ACAS with a view to finally ending the strike. Shaw believes that, if the vote gets approval, it would be a ‘very public statement that we want to talk it through”, and would ‘leave the ball in Johnston’s court”.
Johnston was unavailable for comment.
Journalists are protesting against Johnston Press‘s plans to make 18 staff redundant, including the editor of the South Yorkshire Times, the sports editor of the Doncaster Free Press and the editor of the Goole Courier.
Johnston also wants to merge the Goole and Selby Times operations under one editor and make a reporter and editorial assistant redundant in its Mexborough office.
Last week the NUJ accused Johnston of using students on work placements to break the strike.
UPDATE 27/7/11 12.31pm
NUJ members have unanimously voted to call in ACAS. In a statement they said: “The senior management of SYN [South Yorkshire Newspapers] and indeed JP [Johnson Press] has shown that it is absolutely incapable of producing or expediting any kind of fair or lawful consultation on a redundancy plan which we believe will fatally damage its titles, our jobs and futures, and which will harm a free Press in this country.
“Instead the company has relied on a combination of bullying, harassment and bunker mentality to deliver a no-consultation approach in unlawfully pushing through these proposals.
“For this reason, the SYN chapel now calls on the auspices of the Government in the form of ACAS to intervene in this dispute.
“If the company yet again fails to engage, this demonstrates the complete moral, managerial and strategic redundancy of SYN and JP itself.
“The SYN NUJ chapel re-iterates its willingness to meaningfully negotiate a settlement of this dispute which does not harm our titles, our members or the future of the press.”