Newsquest South London striker speaks
AN NUJ member on strike at Newsquest's South London offices in Sutton over staff cuts spoke to LFB in November. Since she started work with Newsquest in August 2015, "so much talent and experience" has gone from the South London hub.
Newsquest's Sutton hub is supposed to cover a huge swathe of South London, from Richmond and Kingston to Bexley. Management wants cuts at 12 newspapers. After a March recruitment freeze, a team of 8 editors and 22 reporters was reduced to 6 editors and 16 reporters.
In August members overwhelmingly voted for a strike, two days later all but two editorial staff were declared "redundant" or under threat of redundancy. By the time she spoke to LFB, "we are now on nine reporters and one editor for South London" with no photographers.
Newsquest staff have "tried to speak to" management, calling off their strike for talks via the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. These lasted 20 minutes.
The estimated spend on producing a page of a Newsquest local newspaper, excluding rent, was £109 in August. Now it's down to £58, with fewer pages in each newspaper, so less advertising. She feels the business sense behind these cuts is as flawed as the journalism behind it.
Staff - now back in on a work-to-rule - could stay out on strike for so long because "we got twice as many donations as we hoped for." Much staff time is now spent taking complaints from readers "about how bad the newspaper is." For updates, see www.nuj.org.uk/news
Any support from NUJ members "is really welcome." LFB's already voted £500 to Newsquest Sutton staff strike fund, and will put motions to donate the maximum amount it can at each Branch meeting until donations are no longer needed.