Pay, pensions and productivity strike at Southampton Daily Echo

In the pouring rain, NUJ members mounted a successful picket at the Daily Echo offices in Southampton as part of their fight for decent pay.

As journalists struggle with a pay freeze, since July 2008 a director at ‘hardpressed’ Newsquest (that produces the Echo) has awarded himself a massive 21.5% pay rise, taking his ‘pay’ to £610,000.

Strikers were keen to point out that trainees start on £16,500, with senior reporters earning less than £22,000.

Alongside a pay freeze, pensions are under attack with workers being bullied to sign new contracts with worse terms because the company says it can’t afford to fund the pensions agreement.

This is despite the president of the US parent company, Gannett, boasting: “Let me once and for all dispel the myth that Newsquest doesn’t make money.

Newsquest makes a lot of money”. £88.5 million last year.

Barry Fitzpatrick, national NUJ officer, and Sally Churchward, Echo MOC, said support for the strike was very strong with large numbers of members supporting the pickets from early in the morning.

“Membership has increased to over 80%. We also have NUJ members in Brighton balloting”. A further two day strike is planned for 16/17 November. Send messages of support to [email protected] and donations to ‘NUJ Southampton Special’.

Post cheques to NUJ Treasurer, Canute House, Petersfield Road, Cheriton, Alresford, SO24 0NH or donate directly into bank account ‘NUJ Southampton Special’ sort code 086001, account number 20181226.

Nick Chaffey, Southampton Socialist Party