The Socialist 3 March 2009 |
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Industrial action at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post (YP/YEP) has continued into a third week as management continue to threaten staff with the loss of 18 journalists - 10% of the editorial staff.
The ability of both newspapers to print and produce copy off-site due to recent shifts in printing plans and the use of non-union editorial teams has made this dispute particularly important.
Around 140 National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members voted 97% in favour of the action, one of the biggest majorities in NUJ history. This is an indication of the pent-up anger over a gradual drop in conditions and standards at both newspapers, owned by Johnston press.
Peter Lazenby, joint father of chapel, told The Socialist: "After this second set of four-day strikes we start a series of guerrilla actions, including one-day strikes.
"The papers are still getting out because PA (Press Association - a national news agency based in Yorkshire) has set up a specially designed strike-breaking operation called the 'disaster recovery unit'. "
"This involves a mirror-image of the YP/YEP editorial team and has been put into action on every day of the strike."
With most of the staff on strike, the articles are from non-unionised reporters and old articles from other Johnston press titles.
The unit is prepared to take on the role for any newspaper experiencing 'disastrous' strikes, and has been used previously, before the YP strike.
"The anti-union laws say we can't secondary picket," Lazenby explained, "yet what is this operation if not secondary action by the company to break this strike?"
NUJ activists have taken leaflets to the PA office and have received a warm response from the workers there who know little about what their work is being used for. The union faces a key fight to unionise the company, which is based in a small town near York and has been historically aggressive to union activity.
"There is a spiral of decline in the media - circulation falls, profits fall, so management reduce costs and as a result the quality falls, leaving sales to drop at a faster rate.
"If sufficient people resist then we can stop this madness. We have support not only here but in other publications - the Derry Journal (also Johnston press) just voted by 88 per cent to take strike action against similar cuts.
"The public support we have received shows that people recognise that the rich and powerful minority that caused the recession should pay for it."
Please continue to send messages of support and solidarity, as well as donations to the strike fund, to: YP/YEP joint chapel, PO Box HP346, Leeds, LS6 1UL.
The Socialist Party fully supports the strike, arguing:
- No jobs losses: Share the work around without loss of pay.
- Open the books: Let the workers see where the profits have gone.
- If the bosses can't manage the company then it should be taken into democratic public ownership - compensating only on the basis of proven need - and run by the workers and representatives of the wider community in the interests of society at large.