The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its regional organization the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today joined their affiliate in United Kingdom and Ireland, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), in supporting a 12-day strike starting yesterday in south London by the Newsquest Media Group’s workers over pay and conditions following the company’s decision to cut staff.
Employees of Newsquest, one of the UK’s largest regional newspaper publishers with more than 200 papers and owned by the US company Garnett, are on strike over major reorganization, compulsory redundancies and salaries, as some of them are not paid the London living wage.
After failure of negotiations with the management that took place until Wednesday, the union members voted unanimously to strike over the proposed cost-cutting drive which will see many senior roles cut and weeklies placed under a single group managing editor, media reported.
“Our chapels are determined to make the strongest possible case to management that they have had enough of the cuts, low pay and oppose the restructuring,” said NUJ national organiser Laura Davison.
The chapel’s demands include a 3 per cent salary increase while the NUJ seeks no compulsory redundancies, a workable structure that suits the needs of the employees, a halt to plans to move journalists further away from the communities they serve, a written guarantee that the implementation of new organisational systems will not result in further redundancies and fair pay for Newsquest South London journalists including the London living wage for all reporters.
"The IFJ and all its member unions worldwide stand squarely behind the NUJ and its members working for Newsquest in South London," said the IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "We fully support them in this fight to roll back the loss of jobs and low pay and to oppose the restructuring. It is unacceptable that journalists in Newsquest have to fight for a living wage while their CEO in the US is paid £7.5m a year, a sum equivalent to the salaries of 454 reporters".
European colleagues also showed their solidarity to striking workers.
“The EFJ fully supports the strikers’ actions in defence of their jobs. Local journalists should be properly paid. Quality local news requires fair working conditions for local journalists,” said the EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.
The NUJ , which says it is still open to keep the negotiations with the management , has received support from local politicians, including Green Party Members of the London Assembly.
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The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries