Confused strike position of Shields Gazette journalists
Group wide strike across Johnson Press called off
The Shields Gazette publishers, Johnson Press, are facing troubled times and disaffected journalists have raised a dispute over the implementation of the new Atex content management system. A group wide strike which had been called for 19th. May was abandoned after Johnson Press sought an injunction claiming that it did not directly employ any journalists, and now the dispute will involve smaller chapels and JP’s subsidiary companies.
Union members are unhappy about the rollout of Atex across JP, which has led to a reduction in the number of sub-editors needed and claims of increased workloads for remaining staff.
The original ballot resulted in a 70pc ‘yes’ vote for strike action out of the 346 NUJ members who took part.
Prior to the national strike being called off NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said:
“Johnston Press ran to the High Court on Friday afternoon to prevent you exercising your democratic right to take industrial action.
“They spent enormous time and effort putting together a 600-page submission to prove that, despite the JP stamp on your pay slips, on your P60, the JP company handbook you are issued, the policies on the Johnston Press plc intranet on grievance, disciplinary, health and safety and much more you are required to abide by, despite their claims in their annual report, in company bulletins and more that they employ 1,900 journalists and more than 7,000 employees, that you do not work for Johnston Press.
“Our dispute is not with local managements but with Johnston Press plc. Managers at any subsidiary cannot lift the pay freeze. They cannot reopen the closed pension scheme. They cannot decide to employ more staff or ditch Atex. Yet the law requires us to have a dispute with them.
“It means we are left with no choice. We will re-ballot members. We will ballot each centre, each chapel. Given the delay the company have forced on it the new ballot will now be bigger. More journalists will take part.”
It remains to be seen whether or not local chapels will react in favour or against industrial action in separate smaller ballots that may include the employees at titles such as The Shields Gazette, a source is quoted as saying chapels now thought to be keen to ballot members included those in Sheffield, Doncaster, Scarborough, Preston, Blackpool and South Shields.
Via – Hold the Front Page
Meanwhile Graham Blake at The Shields Gazette informs me that they have set up a new website where members of the local community can carve out their own niche and make their own news. Graham says:
This site has been introduced to help communities in South Tyneside interact with one another, as well as promoting the club/group, and any events that you may have going on.
This can be a great benefit to you as it can help you reach out to a much wider audience in South Tyneside, and also help introduce yourselves to new people who are interested in taking part or joining you.
This is all completely free, and is being done to promote local communities in South Tyneside. There is also an option to create your own site, blog, create forums, and show the rest of South Tyneside what you are all about.
I’ve noticed that you can also post your own photos to the site!