Joint Chapel 4pm March 17

March 16, 2009

Firstly, apologies for the long gap in between posts.

Last Thursday and Friday, back at work, were madly busy days, then I took the weekend off union work to go and watch Doves and then the Boro, live, within a few hours of each other. The gig quality, the match less so.

Today, it was back to business though, the first task to chase up the national union’s legal advice regarding MD Chris Green’s message that anyone taking part in the coming mandatory meetings would not be paid, regardless of whether the meetings go ahead or not.

The advice is still being prepared, but the thing that struck me most about the MD’s threat was that it flew in the face of his own 24-hour cancellation deadline. Now, apparently, no period of notice is acceptable should we want to call any of the meetings off, which seems to suggest Chris wants us to go ahead with all of them.

A joint chapel meeting has been called for 4pm tomorrow, at the usual spot, on the concourse, where this, and the various other bits of business, will be dealt with.

Meanwhile, your chapel officers were today working on the redundancy matrixes, for subs and reporters, with the editors and Catriona from HR.

Various points were raised about the categories on the matrix, with the main point – that the union feels the matrix is an unfair method – again pressed home.

Picking up where things were left last week, the London visitors achieved even more top-draw publicity, with the picture in The Times and the feature on Channel 4. The strike was also featured in today’s media Guardian.

Those who made the journey were cheered into The Adelphi at the AGM, where Rob Preece gave a stirring report of their exploits.

It was the icing on the cake to a great night, with President James making a rousing speech and four of our most loyal and long serving members, Tony Phillips, Quentin Gray, Howard Williamson and Jill Armstrong, received their life memberships.

Now though, it’s back to work, with a massive chapel meeting tomorrow. See you there.


Showdown in the Street

March 11, 2009

Johnston Press senior executives had an early-morning wake up call when Leeds strikers paid them a breakfast time visit.

Directors were meeting City analysts to discuss the latest result, and YP and YEP members were able to doorstep chief executive John Fry and finance director Stuart Paterson on their way in.

To their credit, the two men spoke briefly to the strikers, although we have yet to hear the content of the conversation.

Sources within the meeting have told this blog that some of the analysts agreed to wear NUJ stickers throughout the meeting, which must have given Mr Fry and his colleagues some continued food for thought.

Well done to the London visitors for such a great effort, and of course to those on the picket line, which is where I head back to now.

More to follow. Rich.

Foodies and Football Fans

March 10, 2009

A big thanks to Leeds’s foodies and football fans for their great response to the NUJ volunteers on an early evening leafleting mission in the city centre.

Tonight being the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Oliver awards, the paper’s blue riband night for Leeds’s restaurateurs, the joint chapel thought it would be rude if a couple of members didn’t show their faces.

So a three-strong team braved the Dark Arches chill to dish out strike leaflets to the black-tied and ball gowned guests turning out for the Olivers.

Nearly all took a leaflet, and those that didn’t were unfailingly polite, so thanks to all for that. Unfortunately the volunteers missed the YEP editor, Paul Napier, and so our invite inside for a warm and a glass of bubbles went by-the-by. Nevermind, there’s always the next time.

As the Oliver-goers filed past, hundreds of lads (and the odd lass) were travelling the same route, heading for Leeds’s home game with Yeovil. A bonus opportunity for the YEP, in particular, to reach loads of its readers, as Leeds United stories always top that paper’s readership charts.

Earlier in the day, the YP/YEP building was solidly picketed from early doors, the mood as sunny as the weather, the strike looking after itself, members coming and going throughout the day without the need for a rota.

A nice touch from some of the YEP’s younger members, who set up camp on the traffic island opposite the main entrance to the car park. Some of them are in their mid-30s, and will no doubt be pleased to hear Pete Laz look over and say ‘look at that lot. Not one of them a day over 25.’ Best wishes also to the YP team who were waved off on their mission elsewhere.

Big push tomorrow and the President is in town. Let’s make it a strike day to remember, then lift the roof off The Adelphi with our AGM celebrations.

Until then, take it easy. Rich.

From North Face to Caribbean Corner

March 7, 2009

The North Facers got their reward on Friday – as their exposed spot turned into a suntrap and the rays shone down. So warm was the sun the members up there had renamed it Caribbean Corner, let’s see how long that new name lasts during the unpredictable month of March.

This time, the respect was due to the tough crew parked on the corner, near the traffic lights, which was cast in the permanent cold shadow of the YEP/YP building.

Union members kept a strong presence outside all day on Friday, dishing out copies of the latest campaign leaflet, which features the legendary Barbara Taylor-Bradford, one of our star supporters.

The numbers swelled throughout the afternoon, ready for the 4pm chapel meeting which was hosted by our friends at the PCS union. Many thanks to them, and apologies to Councillors Mark Dobson and Geoff Driver, who arrived at the YP building only to find it deserted. My oversight, I forgot to let them know, thanks to them both for their continued support.

Plenty from the meeting adjourned to the oasis that is The Old Steps. The atmosphere in there was electric, people ready to let off a bit of steam but also buzzing from another great day’s action.

I called it a night at nine, but on the way home was called to the pub by a couple of colleagues, to a party I’d completely forgotten about. Cheers to the missus for sanctioning that one.

The high jinks meant getting up for today’s picket was challenging, to say the least. I managed to get there for 8.30am, and found a bit of industrial action to be a miracle hangover cure.

Cheers as always to those who turned out, see you back at the funny farm on Monday. We’ve requested a chapel meeting in the building at 4pm, and will, of course, let you all know as soon as we get a response.

Finally, no scores to avoid this Saturday as Boro play tomorrow, away at Everton in the FA Cup quarter finals. Come on lads, do it for the strikers……….

Take it easy one and all. Rich.

Sepia Tinted Days

March 5, 2009

Sure you’re all watching Red Riding, as am I.

Fascinating to see, the familiar settings and how some of our current and former colleagues used to live and work. Still live and work, in one or two cases. This lad strikes me as more YEP than YP, like.

Quick bit of business then – mandatory meeting tomorrow and strike on Saturday as planned. See you there, seventies style. Rich

The Leeds Spring

March 4, 2009

First hint of the season changing this morning – then winter bit back as the snow started to fall in the afternoon.

Sensibly, the pickets were well wrapped up, prepared for the worst of the weather, as they dug in and put in their latest big effort out on that line.

Today’s raiding party went out to the east coast, paying our friends at the Scarborough Evening News chapel a visit and taking a big pile of petition forms with them.

Not a lot has been heard of them since, so maybe they’re still relaxing with a chip butty and a lemon top, the must-have snack for all Teessiders making their annual trip to the seaside.

Back in Leeds, members of the public were handed a new leaflet, explaining why the YEP and YP have still been coming out, despite nearly all the paper’s journalists having withdrawn their labour.

For those that don’t know, PA has been running a strike-breaking operation, something the NUJ in Leeds has launched a campaign against, with more to follow.

A big thanks to our friends at the PCS for printing the leaflets up, and entertaining the boy while they were hastily worked up on the computer.

Your chapel officers can’t say it enough – massive thanks to all the pickets for their determination and dedication. See you back at the coalface tomorrow, ready to produce a proper YEP and YP.

In solidarity, Rich.

House Husbandry

March 3, 2009

Been role reversal in our house, these last couple of days, me being on holiday meaning the missus has some extra shifts and I’ve been “in charge.”

As I’m sure you can all imagine, the ship has been run tightly, with the boy’s trousers on back to front for several hours, the washing machine conking out and a scary looking “credit crunch tea” on the table when the breadwinner walked back in.

Good to hear of another lively chapel meeting at which members re-stated their determination to be on that line tomorrow and on Saturday, as well as making some plans for the future. Those mandatory chapel meetings are still swirling around in the mix, snapping at management’s toes like hungry piranhas.

See you out front tomorrow. The boy should be putting in his second stint on the line as well.
Stand solid, Rich.

The Next Steps

March 2, 2009

Chapel meeting tomorrow at 4pm, in the YP/YEP building, at which our next moves will be discussed and decided.

Chapel officers have a few things to put on the table, while some ideas from members have already come in. Thoughts from the floor, as always, are very welcome.

I’ve been busy with admin from the home bunker today, as I’m officially on holiday, so those of you flying the flag in the office will be more up on the mood there than me. Pop your views on the Facebook site please.

Finally, thanks to the volunteer who interviewed the legend that is Barbara Taylor-Bradford today. I met her on a job at the Civic Hall a couple of years back. What a woman, a formidable force on our side.

See you tomorrow. Stand tall, Rich.

Village Idiots

March 1, 2009

Interesting, being out there on the picket line.

Inevitably, you see all forms of human life pasing by, and, as stated on here before, the vast majority have been massively supportive of the strike, signing the petition, honking their horns and promising to contact management to outline their reasons for opposing the job cuts.

Inevitably, though, a few numbskulls go past as well, chucking a range of abuse our way that is made hilarious by the fact that it is so completely unoriginal and unfunny.

The basic is the good old British V sign. I’ve spotted only a few of these, one good one today where the fat, sweaty bloke who flicked it ended up embarrased when his car got stuck in traffic just a few yards on, meaning I could walk up and offer him a leaflet again. This time, his eyesight seemed to have gone dodgy, as he was only able to stare straight ahead and couldn’t see me at all.

Even better was the young scally who dropped his trackie bottoms to show us all his scrawny, spotty backside. Good to see the moon is still in use, as I thought that one had fallen out of favour about 20 years ago.

The absolute best though have to be the total dimwits who shout ‘get a job.’ Perhaps there’s more to their joke than I’m realising, but more likely I’d be wasting my time to try and explain that the reason I’m standing outside my place of work is that I already, erm, have a job.
The “get-a-jobbers” are right up there with my favourite piece of abuse from a punter, when I was on a story up in Seacroft. An emaciated bloke, slurping a can of speccy brew from a deckchair in his bomb-site front “garden” at 10.15am, shouted over; “You’re scum you are. Why don’t you go and get a proper job.” Priceless.

Today, as with all of the preceding seven, nearly all of the punters showed us wonderful, and inspiring support.

The cars heading to the Leeds Rhinos game were full of our readers, hundreds of them taking leaflets from the pickets working the flyover area. Well done Lavers, Olwen and Tony G there. Thanks also to all those who turned out today, another great show on a chilly Sunday.

Immediately after leafleting I told Grant and Fi we’d given out “thousands.” Think that was tiredness and Boro beating Liverpool 2-0 playing tricks on my brain. Knew resisting seeing the scores would pay off eventually.

A successful phase one complete then. Your chapel officers will update you as soon as, hopefully tomorrow, about the next steps.

Until then, Happy Sundays. Rich.

Love Letters

February 28, 2009

Every member of the joint Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post chapel woke up today to find a letter, from MD Chris Green, sitting on their doormats.

In it, Chris again states that the redundancy terms will not change, while appearing to contradict statements he made to chapel officers in our final talks with him before the second four-day strike over whether the number of job cuts could be reduced below 15. Perhaps we were slightly cross-purposes in that meeting and misunderstood what was being said, although it seemed pretty clear to me at the time.

Whatever, he now states that the total of 15 can be whittled down through part-time working or job sharing. He also says that ‘the door was left open’ in the hope that, following the first four-dayer, chapel members would review the redundancy terms on offer. Interesting, that one, in that chapel members have been hoping for weeks that management would review those same terms, up the offer and let us all get on with our jobs.

The letter, quite conciliatory at first, then ups the ante slightly, as it now seems the starting pistol has been fired on the 15 redundancies, the 30-day consultation now presumably underway.

Members have also been told they will not be paid for any hours they put in on the day of the planned mandatory meetings. Any graft done on those days, will, apparently, be seen as ‘voluntary,’ and so will go unpaid. A bit like all the extra, voluntary hours and goodwill that members routinely put in to the two papers then. Union full-timers are looking into the legality of the company’s position, while local officers will seek clarification on any other bits necessary. Any questions, as always, see one of us.

In the background to all this, the pickets put in their seventh day of determined action. There was a relaxed, weekend-like vibe on the line, but the strikers again went over and above, covering all three main strike positions until just before 3pm. Loads of leaflets dished out, the usual orchestra of horns and even a visit from an exiled Loiner and ex-YEP staffer who now lives in Canada. He’d heard about the strike and proposed cuts and came down to show his support. Thanks again to all, and also to the passing public for their unstinting support.

I made it just after noon, having flown from Belfast at 9am, the effects of last night’s beer thankfully staying back in Ireland, meaning I turned up fresh for the picket. The news from our comrades at the Derry Journal raised a big cheer in Leeds.

Right. Once again I’ve avoided the Boro score, and, seeing as we played Liverpool today, that might have been especially unwise. Forty-five minutes until Match of the Day. Where’s that bottle opener……..
See you back there tomorrow, a later picket (2.45pm) to catch Rhinos fans. In Solidarity, Ricardinhio.