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Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12515

Posted on 10 August 2011 at 10:27 GMT

Support demo for NUJ strikers at South Yorkshire Newspapers, 6.8.11, photo Alistair Tice

Support demo for NUJ strikers at South Yorkshire Newspapers, 6.8.11, photo Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Demonstration in support of four-week south Yorkshire NUJ strike

Chants of "No more Murdochs, Support the Strike" rang through Doncaster on Saturday 6th August as nearly 100 protesters demonstrated their support for the journalists on indefinite strike at South Yorkshire Newspapers (SYN).

The Murdoch wannabe in question is SYN editor-in-chief Graeme Huston whose dictatorial management and 18 compulsory job losses have provoked this dispute and the slogan: "Huston, you have a problem!"

Now in their fourth week on strike, this demo was a big morale booster for the two dozen striking National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members, with support from local Unison, CWU and UCU union branches.

Demo in support of SYN journalists, Doncaster, 6.8.11

Demo in support of SYN journalists, Doncaster, 6.8.11   (Click to enlarge)

Strikers sang: "We are hacks, united, will never be defeated." Well, they've certainly 'hacked-off' Johnston Press, the regional newspaper group who own SYN, which is in huge debt from empire building gone wrong, and are now cutting jobs and quality journalism to pay for their corporate greed.

The bosses' disregard for community newspapers has been highlighted by Johnston Press managing-director John Bills' son Tom and his friend Jack Reed being used as scabs on the newsdesk at Doncaster Free Press.

Their utter contempt has been exposed by their postings on Facebook like: "Bored, but managing to get though it: .....just thinkin of the dollar atm! As, I'm sure, are the journalists out on strike with no pay".

They also posted a crude comment about the newspaper's editorials. Lawrence Shaw, the NUJ official who revealed this disgusting behaviour, says: "Had any ordinary NUJ member been caught mouthing off on facebook in the same way, they would have almost certainly been sacked for bringing the company into disrepute.

"So seeing as John Bills is ultimately responsible for employing his son to sit in the office and mouth off about how crap it is working at the Doncaster Free Press, surely Johnston Press directors should be seriously questioning his suitability for running a newspaper group."

But Johnston Press keep making "no comment".

Demo in support of SYN journalists, Doncaster, 6.8.11

Demo in support of SYN journalists, Doncaster, 6.8.11   (Click to enlarge)

So last Thursday, NUJ pickets, on learning of top management being in the area, hot-footed it over to the Sheffield Star where they ambushed Bills and chief executive John Fry and grilled them for half an hour on the office steps!

Johnston Press might not want to talk but the strikers have forced them to listen, and they won't be going back to work until their grievances are dealt with.

Alistair Tice, Yorkshire Socialist Party

Please send messages of support to darrenpburke@gmail.com and donations to account name DFP NUJ Chapel, no: 35630388, sort code: 60-06-39.

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