Tindle Newspapers journalists working on the company's North London titles, including the Barnet Press, recently took six days' strike action. They were protesting against their workload, the result of the owner of the company not replacing staff as they leave.
Times are hard for the local newspapers business, but Tindle Newspapers, owned by Sir Ray Tindle, is still making a profit. Sir Ray boasts that he has never made people redundant - but that boast was not worth much to our local reporters, sub editors and photographers who were being asked to churn out - that is what it was starting to feel like - title after title with fewer and fewer resources.
The journalists, through their union the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), negotiated for a year with the company, simply asking for one more member of staff, but the negotiations came to nothing. The chapel (that's what the NUJ calls its union branches) took the step of voting to strike. They simply wanted to show that they had had enough; they chose to demonstrate that it is their labour that produces the titles that Tindle is proud to put out in his name.
They struck for six days in April - though they were docked 10 days' pay. Vastly inferior issues of the papers were produced by management in south London. The Tindle strikers' strike was imaginative and won support from the communities they serve, including local politicians. But Tindle Newspapers went quiet. The journalists thought long and hard; the editor came on board in a second ballot for strike action, a vote which again was unanimous in favour.
Tindle Newspapers agreed to talk again, and met the group of NUJ sponsored MPs in Parliament. And, happily, the two sides have now agreed a settlement which ends this dispute - see the journalists' blog for the news:
Following a successful day of negotiations Tindle has agreed to reverse its policy of non-replacement agreeing to a six month moratorium on present staffing levels – guaranteeing that if anyone in editorial leaves over this period they will be replaced. They have also agreed an extra reporter to work for half the week to help out with the current workload. The situation after six months will then be reviewed.This result was achieved through trade union members 'withdrawing their labour', to use the jargon, and showing their employers just how valuable they are to the company. You see, strikes are good.
It has also withdrawn redundancy consultation notices issued to staff on the eve of their first walk out.
Jonathan Lovett FOC at North London & Herts Newspapers said: “It has been a long, hard struggle but we are satisfied with the result and now look forward to working together with Tindle to ensure our papers are returned to the quality publications which our readers deserve. We have many ideas for the future of our papers and we look forward to sharing them with the Tindle management across the table.”
Save local newspapers - public meeting, 4th July
Enfield hosts the launch of a national, National Union of Journalists campaign on Monday, July 4 to save local newspapers. It starts at 6.30pm at The Dugdale Centre in Thomas Hardy House, 39 London Road, Enfield, EN2 6DS. There will be a range of speakers followed by a Q&A session with The Enfield Nine. All are welcome.