Sacked in ten minutes – journalists in Darlington vote for strike action
The Darlington ballot – which took place the same week as journalists in Swindon also voted for action – had 28 people entitled to vote, 15 votes were cast in support of strike action (88%), two votes were against strike action, and there was one spoilt/invalid ballot paper.
There were also 17 votes in favour of action short of a strike, and one vote against (94%).
The NUJ members balloted work on the Northern Echo, Darlington and Stockton Times, Durham Times and the Advertiser series.
NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “Our members at Darlington have shown that they are not prepared to stand by and see their colleagues dismissed, more and more work heaped on them while a few crumbs of recognition for the sacrifice they and their families make on bank holidays are taken away.
“Senior management at Newsquest need to take a long hard look at the damage that has been, and clearly continues to be, wrought on fine titles such as the Northern Echo with strong reputations built up by generations of highly professional journalists.
“Local newspapers are more than just money-making machines – although they continue to do so for the US shareholders who own Newsquest. They and their dwindling staff have been battered and hugely underfunded for so many years that there is a limit to how much they can take.
“We really hope management will take stock of the expressed anger of staff at the Echo and rethink their plans through sensible and reasonable dialogue with the NUJ chapel before the need for any industrial action to take place.”
A spokesperson from the Newsquest Darlington NUJ chapel said: “The chapel is very pleased with the result of the ballot, which gives a strong mandate for action.
“At the end of a year which has seen a small pay rise countered by a decrease in the mileage rate, then followed by a proposal to reduce pay and lieu time given for working bank holidays, and now a re-structure of editorial that will mean the loss of highly-valued, experienced and talented staff, members are angry and disillusioned.
“The ballot shows the support there is for colleagues placed at risk and concerns about the increasing workloads that are being continuously imposed as a result of the raft of cost-cutting measures.”
The NUJ has also condemned Newsquest for its handling of redundancies in the week before Xmas. The company continues to inflict misery on journalists and has axed jobs in Swindon this week.
NUJ newspapers organiser Laura Davison said: “These cuts are cruel and shocking. Members have been dismissed in meetings which lasted less than 10 minutes. There was no thanks for the work these staff have done, no recognition of their skills and talents, no support offered and no meaningful effort to avoid the redundancies. Remaining staff are now just expected to pick up the pieces and get on with it, when morale is in tatters. Newsquest’s editorial director appears to have been given free rein to wreak havoc across newsrooms and this is the upshot. It’s appalling.”
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