Thursday, 18 November 2010

Argus NUJ strike to save our local newspaper!

[Words and pictures by Peter Knight]

NUJ members at Brighton's local newspaper The Argus made a stand against mounting job losses on Thursday as they walked out to start 48 hours of solid strike action.

Management plans to axe six local subbing and production jobs saw union members vote an overwhelming 91 per cent in favour of the walk-out.

The cuts are the latest in a series of redundancies that have seen more than 100 jobs lost at the paper over the last two years with some of the work being transfered to Southampton 80 miles away.

However, management's claim of "working hard" to create jobs along the coast rings hollow when it means sacking Brighton journalists, particularly when the newspaper's boss awards himself a 21 per cent salary increase while workers across Newsquest titles have suffered a pay freeze for the last three years.

At the well supported and lively picket, Argus NUJ father of the chapel Tim Norman declared: "We're taking strike action because we're seeking to protect local jobs, local journalism. What is a local paper if it isn't being produced in that locality?

"The local paper is the fourth estate for the local community - it's there to keep an eye on and reflect what's going on, be it local democracy, reporting crime."

As passing car after car hooted their horns in support of the workers on the Hollingbury picket, Mr Norman added: "There is no question that people want a local paper, but what they want is quality journalism and that can only come from having local workers producing the paper.

"This is an attack not just on our jobs and the quality of the paper but an attack on the local community as a whole. We're saying enough is enough."

Members from GMB, Unite and fellow NUJ comrades from other workplaces swelled the numbers outside the Argus offices with support from Brighton trades council delegates and the local pensioners forum.

A message of solidarity from NUJ president Pete Murray read. "Local knowledge, expertise and properly resourced journalism is vital for every local newspaper. The NUJ rejects the false economy of breaking links between newspapers and their communities. The hole union is behind you in your fight. Stay strong and united."

Argus NUJ members will be continuing their strike action tomorrow. They have set up a petition at and will be campaigning across the city during the 48 hours with activities to highlight the vital role the local paper provides for the community, and the battle to save it.

A delegate from the Argus NUJ chapel will be attending the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition delegates meeting on Monday November 22, 7.30pm at the Caxton pub to link up with other local workers fighting back against cuts and job losses. Make sure your union branch or campaign group sends someone too.

Visit the Argus NUJ blog at