MPs and local councillors have backed NUJ members on strike today at the Newsquest-owned Argus newspaper in Brighton.
The journalists are protesting at management plans to move the paper's sub-editing operation to Southampton, which will see seven staff made redundant, and a company-wide pay freeze.
They have received messages of support from Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemp Town; Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion; Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove and Portslade; Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West; Lord Bassam and Mary Mears, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
Lucas said: "As a local paper, the Argus is key to encouraging a sense of pride in our communities, and provides a forum for people to talk about their achievements and debate the future of the city. This is a service that must be maintained and well resourced.
“Which is why I’m opposed to these misguided attempts by the Newsquest owners to pare down to a skeleton staff and move sub-editors to a completely different city. What’s more, it seems hugely unfair that Argus staff are facing a two and a half year pay freeze, whilst the Chief Executive is in line for a 21% pay increase.
"Sadly, when you put ownership of the media, especially local media, in the hands of distant multinational corporations like Newsquest, the reality is that key decisions are made by people who have no real appreciation for the consequences on the ground. I fully support the actions of the NUJ in this strike, and hope to see a favourable outcome for the Argus.”
A spokesperson from the NUJ's Brighton Argus chapel said: "We've been truly overwhelmed by the support we've received today. There has been a non-stop symphony of tooting horns from passing motorists, and workers also facing the prospect of the sack coming along to join us on the picket line to show their support.
"It's clear that people immediately understand that sacking local staff in the name of providing a local service more cheaply is madness. The whole city seems to be right behind us. We're looking forward to even more support tomorrow and would encourage people to try and take the time to come along to the picket line and show their support."
Pic: NUJ Argus chapel.