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Southampton journalists take on Newsquest
OVER 40 striking journalists formed pickets outside the offices of the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton, in a successful two-day strike over pay.
The strike took place on 25 and 26 October, after negotiations over pay broke down. Newsquest refused to improve their 2.3% offer and NUJ members decided enough was enough. There was a positive mood on the picket line over the two days, with NUJ members also leafleting Daily Echo outlets in Southampton.
The dispute has received good coverage in the local media and over 100 messages of support had been received by day two. "We're delighted with the support we've had both inside the company and outside. It's very heartening to see that support."
This was the first strike action at the paper since the 1970s and has not been taken lightly.
Many on the picket line said the pay issue was the final straw. The strike follows eight journalists being made redundant last year. Then, despite promises, the workload increased, with four new free titles and the internet facility added to an already stretched team of journalists.
In addition the company's final salary pension scheme has been closed to new members. Newsquest has also effectively taken two weeks' wages by moving the pay date from the 15th of the month to the 26th. Management have also announced the closure of their Winchester office.
Despite these changes, the paper has found the money to employ an untrained scab 'journalist' in the shape of the editor's wife, whose skills are so poor, all her material has to be rewritten by other journalists. "They are paying the equivalent of £1,000s a year, if they'd used that money to pay their proper journalists, we wouldn't be here," pickets explained.
With the strike, union membership has now increased. And members will be meeting to discuss their plans to take the dispute forward, including further strike action if necessary. Management have now arranged to go to ACAS on 10 November.
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In The Socialist 2 November 2006:
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