Journalists at the Swindon Advertiser have begun two days of strike action.
The industrial action was called as part of a dispute over low pay and working conditions at the Newsquest-owned regional daily newspaper.
Members of the National Union of Journalists at the Swindon Advertiser will not be signing on for work today or tomorrow. They are taking part in a picket line outside the Old Town offices of the newspaper this morning and have received support from NUJ chapels from Wiltshire, Bristol and Oxford.
A spokesman for the NUJ Swindon chapel said:
“It is time for Newsquest to wake up and realise that highly skilled workers who have helped bring in bumper profits for the company will not work for peanuts while their workload continues to mount.
“We are utterly fed up with being treated with such contempt by Newsquest management, who have seen it fit to cut even more roles from our already diminished workforce. Journalists are the lifeblood of Newsquest and they work hard to foster strong community relations and maintain a loyal readership amid ever-dwindling resources.
“Members believe Newsquest Wiltshire and Oxfordshire is on course to make a £4m operating profit this year – by contrast a decent wage rise for all Swindon journalists, where poor pay is a growing problem in recruiting and retaining staff, would be measured in the tens of thousands of pounds.
“Newsquest should understand that treating their talent in this manner is not acceptable, and journalists will no longer stand for it.”
The Swindon Chapel has been engaged in talks over pay with Newsquest senior management since November 2016, including talks brokered by the conciliation service ACAS earlier last year, during which members have been stonewalled at every level. Despite statements given to the press from Newsquest saying that meaningful talks with NUJ representatives would take place in a bid to avert the strike, the company has failed to respond to several invitations.
Last month Newsquest announced that the group web editor, news editor and three content managers based at Swindon were at risk of redundancy in a restructure.
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:
“Newsquest’s shabby treatment of its journalists and journalism is shocking. Everything is sacrificed to the bottom line including the relationship with local readers who are treated as free suppliers of content. Well done to NUJ members in Swindon standing up for quality local news coverage and for the investment in decent pay, conditions and staffing that enables that.”
Messages of support and solidarity can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tweet your support to @AdverStrike #Cutsquest
There will be a photo call on the picket line on Tuesday 2 January at 11am in the vicinity of 100 Victoria Road, Swindon SN1 3BE.
Donations for the strike fund can be sent to:
Unity Trust Bank
Account name: NUJ Wiltshire Branch
Account number: 35016904
Bank sort code: 608301