Thursday, 16 June 2011

Striking journalists could link the private and public sectors

This morning I spent some time with pickets outside the South London Guardian office in Sutton.
It was bleak, it was pouring with rain. I was proud of my fellow National Union of Journalists' members battle to save local newspapers from the butchers who own them.
Another round of redundancies had pushed these proud workers over the edge.
The strike was their response - with picket lines in Sutton and Twickenham.
Local papers make money for the corporations that run them - in this case the American-owned Newsquest.
But newspaper bosses have given up trying to provide any sort of service to the communities they milk for cash.
Here's an article I wrote about it in 2005
Journalists at North London and Herts Newspapers, owned by Tindle Newspapers, struck in April because staff numbers had been halved.
Someone else is leaving the Enfiled-based firm. There is no sign of a replacement.
The nine NUJ members left have re-balloted and voted unanimously for more strike action.
So both these chapels - workplace branches - have ballots that would allow them to take lawful strike action on Thursday June 30 when 750,000 other trade unionist are already due to walk out .
The NUJ is a bottom up democracy. These journalists will - rightly - decide their own next move.
But I think it would be brilliant if they joined the June 30 action.
It would strike back at a ruling elite trying to turn private and public sector workers against each other.
It would be a great PR opportunity as the first private sector workers to join the strike.
It would create a massive audience for the campiagn to save local journalism among the members of the other unions already taking part - the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), University and College Union (UCU), and Public and Commercial Services union (PCS).
And it would give an opportunity to argue that local media is a vital service, holding acommunities together by publicising and scrutinising the vital work of the other public servants striking on June 30.


  1. As I said at an anti-cuts meeting here in Haringey, public services are not just provided by the government and councils. Local media are supposed to provide a public service, fulfilling the community's right to information.

    It would be great if members go out on 30 June. If only other unions would recognise that it is possible to recruit in the private sector and bloody did it.

  2. stewart perkins16 June 2011 at 23:28

    June 30th....excellent idea. Please keep me on your mailing list.

  3. Spot on brother.

    Shameless plug, my own take on the situation

  4. Local newspapers are a vital part of communities. Yes, the advertising is important for the local businesses who can't compete with the multinationals for profile but they provide a much more important service. They can speak to local people, raise local issues, report from council meetings, promote local events, promote local campaigns and support communities in a way no other media can.

    They need local journalists, with local knowledge, to do this.

    It would be wonderful to see Newsquest members joining the public sector action on the 30th. Not only would it unite public and private sector workers but it would also raise the profile of the Newsquest workers' action and the importance of a well staffed, well supported local press.

    Dave Plummer,
    PCS R&C Euston Branch Organiser

  5. The local press play an important part in raising community news and stories - and offer valauable coverage for trade unionists like myself.

    Unfortunately, just as with teachers and schools, it seems they expect us to provide a quality service with fewer staff and with those that remain having not enough p[ay and excessive workload - and a reduced pensions into the bargain!

    These are all some of the reasons why teachers voted for action on June 30 in such a big majority.

    It would be great if you could join us on our march and rally on June 30 in Central London - especially if you were taking action on the same day in pursuit of your own dispute.

    Martin Powell-Davies, NUT National Executive member for Inner London