Archive for February, 2009

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.


BBC presenter visits Leeds pickets

February 28, 2009

Look North presenter Harry Gration took time out from work at the BBC to visit the strikers on Friday.

A Yorkshireman through and through, Harry was keen to emphasise the importance of diverse newspapers and broadcasting to the life of the region.

BBC Look North presenter meets strikers outside the Yorkshire Post building in Leeds.

BBC Look North presenter meets strikers outside the Yorkshire Post building in Leeds.

Harry talks about the papers’ importance in the Day Six video.

Envoy brings echoes of empathy from the north east

February 28, 2009
Sunderland Echo father of chapel John Bainbridge, right, travelled to Leeds to hand over the proceeds from a collection there to Pete Lazenby, left. NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley looks on.

Sunderland Echo father of chapel John Bainbridge, right, travelled to Leeds to hand over the proceeds from a collection there to Pete Lazenby, left. NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley looks on.

MPs rally to challenge Johnston Press stance

February 28, 2009

MEMBERS of Parliament used their “constituency Fridays” to add their voices to those calling on Johnston Press managers in Leeds to acknowledge the damage their stance is doing to the city’s cultural and political life.

Among those visiting the picket line outside the Yorkshire Post Newspapers building on Wellington Street were environment secretary and Leeds central MP Hilary Benn, Colin Burgon MP from Elmet, Colin Challen from Morley and Rothwell and Fabian Hamilton from Leeds North East.

Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton addresses striking journalists in Leeds.

Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton addresses striking journalists in Leeds.

NUJ Parliamentary group secretary John McConnell sent a message saying: “I stand in solidarity with the strike actions today – which are more than individual industrial disputes, but part of a national struggle to defend the very future of the profession – standing up for journalists and standing up for journalism.”MPS

International backing reaches Leeds

February 28, 2009

INTERNATIONAL support has arrived for striking Johnston Press journalists in Leeds.

Current IFJ president Jim Boumela has written to say: “I write on behalf of the IFJ and its affiliate unions worldwide to express our solidarity with the YP strikers.

“Attacks on unions’ rights, slashing of budgets and sacking of journalists seem to be the only response by media companies to the crisis that is engulfing journalism globally.

“This is why the brave fight by your members to save jobs and defend quality is such an inspiration to journalists all over the world. Please be assured that we are behind you in this fight.”

Friday: Strike Day 6

February 28, 2009

Visitors making their presence felt on the picket line on Friday 27 February included:

  • Hilary Benn MP
    Colin Challen MP
    Fabian Hamilton MP
    Colin Burgon MP
    Cllr Keith Wakefield
    Harry Gration (BBC TV)
    Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos)
    Foxwood Steel Bandits
    Mc ill-Literate & Ms Sykes
    And others.
  • There was also a very upset Evening Post [sales]man, who was unable to sell his remaining 197 papers due to lack of public interest.

    To view Strike Day 6 Video click here.

    To view all Leeds NUJ strike videos click here.

    A big thank you to everyone taking hold of the microphone to record simple snapshot conversations [meaningful or meaningless] with your friends on the picket line. These will only be used as a soft contrast to the colder official politics if we put together a post-strike documentary; not for Youtube.

    Any offers to volunteer such help over the next couple of days will be greatly appreciated. Thanks 🙂 🙂 🙂


    Fire across the water

    February 27, 2009

    It is starting to spread.

    Earlier today, I spoke to a well organised, tight and determined NUJ chapel at the Derry Journal. It was a pleasure to meet them.

    Like us, they were left feeling that they had no alternative but to ballot for strike action after management said they needed to put seven people out of work. Also like us, they have a massive mandate for action, nearly 90 per cent voting in favour of a strike.

    This is big for us for two reasons. Firstly, from the strength in solidarity the two chapels can draw from each other. But secondly, and more importantly, the owners can no longer claim the Leeds dispute is a local difficulty. Another group of workers have given a thumping rejection of JP’s management policies, letting the company know exactly what they think.

    Our Derry brothers and sisters are busy planning their strike now, and, from what I heard today, it’s going to be a beauty. We stand side-by-side with them.

    Respect, as always, to those who held the line today. Looking forward to getting back there tomorrow. Enjoy your Friday nights – you’ve deserved it. I’m off drinking with a Glaswegian and a bloke from Belfast. Remember those old jokes? There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman………….

    Until tomorrow. Big Love, Rich.

    BBC colleagues win prestigious television award

    February 27, 2009

    A TRIUMPH for two broadcast journalists from Leeds is being celebrated today.

    Although they’re not involved with this particular walkout, BBC Inside Out producer Nicky Addyman and presenter Jamie Coulson, have this week received ballots for industrial action at the Corporation in protest against threatened compulsory redundancies and a rejected pay claim.

    Last night in London, they won the prestigious Royal Television Society regional award for their coverage of the death of Michael Barnett, the Hull man who was swept to his death in a storm drain during last year’s horrendous floods.

    Nicky, who until recently was the NUJ’s mother of chapel at the BBC in Leeds, yesterday visited Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post strikers before getting the train to London for the awards ceremony.

    BBC producer and former MoC Nicky Addyman talks to NUC vice president Pete Murray on the picket line in Leeds

    BBC producer and former MoC Nicky Addyman talks to NUC vice president Pete Murray on the picket line in Leeds

    “Their success is a credit to dedicated journalism in the face of continued management pressures,” said NUJ national executive council member Adam Christie.

    “Nicky and Jamie and everyone else working for the BBC in Leeds show us every day just how much journalism matters to our communities. It’s great that the RTS has recognised their work in this way.”

    Video: Strike Day 5

    February 27, 2009

    The NUJ President and Vice-President visit Leeds.
    Featuring special guests Mc ill-Literate & Ms Sykes.

    For Strike Day 5 Video click here

    Strong and Solid

    February 26, 2009

    The first four days were defined by a fresh enthusiasm, the strikers, younger and older, like kids on Christmas Day, each one carried along by the excitement.

    Today, as the second four began, the fact the strikers were now all battle-hardened was clear to see. As previously said, Tuesday’s chapel meeting was held in an air of relaxed confidence, a clear effect of people standing side-by-side on the line. Today, the NUJ members showed a grim determination while staying positive and good humoured, some of the jokes drawn straight from the journalists’ tradition of black humour, any wide-eyedness from the first strike now gone.

    The experience could be seen in the organisation, people taking the fight to PA’s doorstep, co-ordinating the local publicity, Roman working his magic with the camera yet again and the team that headed out to petition in town.

    Welcome re-inforcements, fresh faces, were on the line, three lads who were away on holiday last week, while the early birds were boosted by the 7.30am announcement of the arrival of The Hud’s son. Well done mother, father and child.

    Your chapel clerk headed off for Ireland at dinner-time, ready to speak to colleagues across the water. As I was in the air, the news came through about the Derry Journal’s thumping ballot result, a massive mandate for their strike. Well done to them all, and I can’t wait to speak to them tomorrow.

    Other chapels who are balloting, or thinking of it, look at the marvellous events in Leeds and draw strength from them. Contact one of the Leeds strikers and we’ll come and visit you. The more of us that act, the stronger we are.

    We as workers do our jobs and do them superbly well, taking pride in our work. We must also remember the power we hold as a unified, organised workforce, power we would never use lightly, but at times of real need.

    Now, as we witness a pivotal point in journalism, our industry being changed before our eyes, is one of those times. Look to Leeds. Have no fear. And do what needs to be done. See you back on the line on Saturday.