Monday 1 December 2008

NUJ plans fight-back against job cuts and reveals '500 editorial posts lost since June'

A crisis summit meeting of NUJ union reps from across the local newspaper industry at the weekend has backed plans for a wave of protests and industrial action in the coming weeks, the union revealed today.
The planned action comes as new research figures compiled in the last seven days by the union show that more than 500 journalists posts have been axed or left unfilled at local newspaper groups since June. More than 30 local newspaper offices have been closed and 50-plus titles closed, the union says.
The NUJ has vowed to resist job cuts which it claims "damage quality, significantly increase hours and workloads, and threaten the health and welfare of journalists". A day of action against the cuts will be organised. Union reps also pledged to co-ordinate campaigns across workplaces to fight "imposed and unwarranted" pay freezes. The union has also urged editors to work alongside their journalists to defend "editorial independence and integrity".
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Instead of greater investment in quality online content, more localised coverage and strengthened editorial teams, for years the vast profits of local newspapers have been largely shovelled in to shareholders pockets, directors’ pay rises and executive pension pots, amidst reckless borrowing and poor investment decisions.
"Now the very people who plunged the industry into this crisis by demanding such excessive profits believe the solution is to axe journalists and freeze pay. They were spectacularly wrong in the past and are spectacularly wrong again. It is a false economy to put the ability to deliver scoops, quality content and strong local coverage in jeopardy. Local newspapers in print and online remain viable and profitable businesses. We can’t stand by and see this profiteering destroy our industry."
NUJ reps from Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror, and Newsquest have agreed to co-ordinate industrial action against compulsory redundancies; organise a union-wide day of action and a series of protests and activities against job cuts and pay freezes around "key" company and industry events; "expose instances of shareholder and management greed"; build community-based 'Stand up for Journalism' campaigns. They also plan to lobby members of the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament and National Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland calling on them to back the fight to stop job cuts and save local media.

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