The NUJ has finally provoked a response from Johnston Press six weeks into a strike by journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers over job cuts.
It follows leaflets (top) being handed out at a Doncaster Rovers football match critical of SYN editor-in-chief Graeme Huston over his decision to lay off the long-serving Doncaster Free Press sports editor Peter Catt.
The leaflet carried a picture of Huston and the wording: "The Man Who Kicked the Catt"
It led SYN md John Bills to fire off a letter to NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley.
We bring to your attention the enclosed leaflet which we understand is being distributed by your members who are currently out on strike action. A copy of this was sent personally to Graeme Huston with a derogatory note included.
It must be stressed that actions of this nature are not acceptable and I am sure that you are as disappointed as I am that this literature is being circulated.
I trust that the NUJ does not condone this literature and type of behaviour. I would ask that you remind your members of their responsibilities and code of practice whilst taking part in industrial action
Chris Morley's responded:
Thank you for sending on a copy of the leaflet "The Man Who Kicked the Catt" and your letter dated yesterday.
It appears to me that the material is both accurate and fair comment. It is also presenting important news to the people of the town that has been withheld from the pages of the Doncaster Free Press during the strike.
I suggest that if the story of Peter Catt's dismissal had been properly reported in the DFP, then derogatory comments about the prime mover would have come to your offices directly.
As you know, the actions of the company in targeting talented journalists who were known by management as leading members of the NUJ chapel has angered my members so much they are on indefinite strike. Denying them the chance to bring about a satisfactory settlement of the dispute by your refusal to hold talks without withdrawal of the action, can only increase my members' determination to hold management to account.
Instead of asking me to repudiate the actions of my members, I suggest you instead ask me for my availability to hold talks to resolve the dispute. I am happy to do this at any time.
Source: Collective Invective blog