Early Day Motion

THIS week the NUJ Parliamentary Group received a briefing on our situation and in response yesterday Edmonton MP Andy Love lodged an Early Daily Motion alerting the House of Commons to our plight and calling on Sir Ray Tindle to meet with the union to resolve the dispute.

Early day motion 1896: North London and Herts Newspaper Group
That this House applauds the stand taken by journalists at the North London and Herts newspaper group in defence of quality newspapers; notes that over the last two years more than half of the newsdesk have left the newspapers without new staff being appointed; further notes that there are now only two reporters covering nine newspapers; believes that journalists are therefore unable to cover important stories in depth, are unable to cover community or political events, council meetings and court cases; believes that this runs contrary to the Tindle Newspapers Ltd’s local newspaper philosophy; further notes that the group’s proprietor Sir Ray Tindle has a personal fortune of 149 million and that the parent company made 8.6 million profit two years ago; and calls on Sir Ray Tindle to meet with the National Union of Journalists in order to resolve this dispute and preserve quality newspapers for the local communities.

Primary sponsor: Andrew Love, Date tabled: 09.06.2011 http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-11/1896

Ask your MP to sign EDM 1896
Early Day Motions are very good ways of raising issues in parliament, which may not get debated in normal sittings of parliament.
You can contact your MP for free on http://www.writetothem.com

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‘People hearing without listening’

“People talking without speaking

People hearing without listening…

‘Fools,’ said I, ‘You do not know  

Silence like a cancer grows.'”

Sound Of Silence  – Paul Simon

That lyric from Paul Simon sums up the situation we are facing at the moment quite aptly. And the sound of silence is deafening.

The Tindle management has “talked” to us by stripping out all of our freelancers, communicating the message that just because it was able to throw together a quite frankly embarrassing excuse for a newspaper while we were out on strike, then we were clearly being lavished with an excess of resources.

They hear but they just don’t listen…

It’s not just about filling the spaces between the adverts with words. It’s an insult to our readers to treat them with such disdain to suppose that they do not care about the depth and accuracy of coverage, but it is clearly a notion that the management endorses. Our MPs, along with all those who have shown their support for us over the past weeks, have stressed the importance of the role of a newspaper as a guardian of local democracy – a means of holding public bodies and businesses to account.

Our readers do care. And so do we – passionately.

But wait. Perhaps I’m being too unfair on the management about its lack of communication. After all, our FOC, Jonathan Lovett, is meeting one of the management team, Peter Edwards, this very Tuesday. So all this talk of not communica…

Sorry? What’s that? Tuesday’s meeting has been scrubbed?  

Management is now refusing to talk to us at all until after the board meeting on June 22. Oh dear. It’s not very good is it?

And as the last line of that Paul Simon lyric puts it: “silence like a cancer grows….”

Meanwhile, envelopes containing ballot papers drop silently onto nine doormats. NUJ members sit at home quietly marking a now-familiar yellow voting paper with the two strokes of a X, pausing perhaps to look up and out at an imaginary horizon, contemplating what might lie along the path ahead…

The Enfield’s Nine’s battle for quality journalism – goes on…

James Lowe

Sub editor and deputy FoC

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More cuts

TO paraphrase Henry Ford, our owners like giving us news of, “any colour… so long as it’s black”.

Having returned to work after two high-profile weeks of strike action we received three weeks of silence from management and then… an announcement that all our freelance budget was going to be cut! Unbelievable.

So, not only is Tindle intent on a suicidal mission of non-replacement of staff, but he has now decided to strip away the entire support team which we rely on to get these papers out. It’s as though a football team has been told they can only play with half their players and then the owner takes their boots away. It means no more photographers to help the two full-timers over weekends or on evening jobs, no more freelance sub-editors who help out our couple of staff members sub the vast amount of copy, no more journalists who fill in and help write the many articles when a couple of the reporters are away on holiday.

It has added insult to injury and is a real kick in the teeth for an already demoralised workforce.

What’s more, one of our senior reporters has today handed in her notice after finding employment elsewhere, and there is zero guarantee that she will be replaced – meaning it could potentially be just two reporters churning out a grand total of nine newspapers. (Management, as always, is refusing to say whether her position will be filled or not – we dread the later).

And so we are balloting again for further industrial action in the hope that Ray Tindle will finally come to his senses and allow us to wake from this particularly gruesome nightmare. We hope he will finally realise you cannot provide quality newspapers for north London with a skeleton staff that is being constantly eroded. All we want are the journalists to do the job, so our readers can benefit from proper, campaigning papers at the heart of the community.

We are angry we have been forced into this situation, yet again, but want to send out a clear, direct message that this is utterly unacceptable and the battle is still ongoing.

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Meetings everywhere

Members of the Enfield Nine have just returned from addressing various NUJ meetings about our strike.

Chief photographer Anne-Marie Sanderson and sub editor James Lowe were invited to a branch meeting of the London Freelance Branch at the House of Commons while our FoC spoke at a meeting of the London Magazine Branch. All received encouraging words of support and generous donations. Thank you all for giving us the chance to spread our message.

Members will also be attending a meeting with the London Central Branch on Tuesday evening and Clerkenwell and St Pancras Unite on Wednesday this week.

The fight continues…

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Tindle keep Enfield Nine in the dark

THE Enfield Nine returned to work this week after two weeks of intense strike action.

At 8.30am on Tuesday morning we convened in a local cafe, which has become an unofficial strike HQ for us, and proudly walked back into our office, united as always, with our heads held high.

We half-expected letters to be waiting for us on our desks or an instant summons from Tindle management but instead we were met with wave upon wave of… silence.

Tindle is, indeed, a peculiar beast. Throughout the strike action we hardly received a peep from them and even now I had to request a meeting with our publisher and managing director to find out what on earth was happening with this veiled threat of “redundancies” and “restructuring” which was stated in a letter received from them on the eve of our action.

As was to be expected neither had anything of significance to say and I was fobbed off with a vague promise that there would be announcements in “due course”. A huge part of the problem is that the group is run by one man, Sir Ray Tindle, who seems to make all of the crucial decisions so, unsurprisingly, his subordinates continually fudge, duck and sidestep perhaps because they are as genuinely in the dark as we are.

So we continued with the day-to-day in a weird kind of limbo land, punctuated by uplifting evening meetings such as addressing the NUJ’s Press and PR branch who presented us with a generous donation and inspired us with warm words of support and solidarity. Once again, the support from across not just the industry, but from trade unions and individuals across the country, has been one of the most rewarding aspects of our strike and it further reiterates that our cause is just and right.

With little reaction from senior management – and only a vague promise of a meeting – it is once again up to us to take the initiative and take the fight to them in the hope of reversing their suicidal policy of non-replacement of staff. Various options are being considered this weekend and whatever happens Tindle is naive to think it is just business as normal at North London & Herts Newspapers.  Watch this space…

Jonathan Lovett

Father of the Chapel

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Concluding thoughts of our FoC

It’s been… emotional.

Two weeks of strike action, 6,000 leaflets handed out, 48 articles (and counting) written about us, two BBC radio interviews, hundreds of letters in support, countless hours of labour, nine journalists.

All because management would not give us just one more reporter – on a fixed term contract of just a year, no less – to help us out with the ridiculous workload that has meant three reporters churning out nine newspapers for our much-abused readers.

But, after all those facts and figures, what have we actually achieved? Tindle management has not, as yet, agreed to one concession after nearly 12 months of negotiation… will they do so now? We can only hope these two intense weeks will help focus their minds as they are forced to realise the massive groundswell of support for our campaign indicates that we are right and they are wrong.

But besides from that we have also achieved something invaluable: self-respect. I am so proud of the Enfield Nine. Adam, Anne-Marie, James, Kim, Liz, Lucy, Lee and Mary have all stood up for themselves and our beleaguered profession. They have put their necks on the line and by so doing have gained enormous respect in our industry and in many trade union movements across the country.

Our union, the NUJ, in particular has taken note and provided excellent support because they see us as the frontline in a battle not just for papers in north London but the newspaper industry as a whole.

So, we go back to work on Tuesday with our heads held high in a far stronger position than we were in before. And, if we still can’t make management see sense, then we have every right to strike again… because what we are doing is not just for ourselves but for every journalist in every newspaper group which places quantity before quality, churnalism over journalism, the bottom line over you… the reader.

Yours in solidarity,

Jonathan Lovett

Father of the Chapel

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Striking Tindle journalists hold street party outside HQ

The Enfield Nine ended their fortnight’s strike in celebratory mood today outside Tindle headquarters in Farnham. They organised a colourful street party complete with bunting, fairy cakes, cucumber sandwiches and music in a bid to persuade their owner Sir Ray Tindle to preserve their formerly award-winning newspapers.

It was the latest demonstration in an action-packed two weeks which have seen a mass mock funeral through Enfield, appearances on national radio and huge coverage in the trade press and beyond, triggering a discussion about the future role of quality local journalism in this country.

Father of the Chapel, Jonathan Lovett, said: “It just shows that striking can be a positive action if the cause is right. We feel we have finally found a voice after months of fruitless negotiations and frustration.

“When we started this we didn’t realise we would hit such a nerve with journalists and readers up and down the country.

“We hope this is the start of a national debate about the future of local journalism. For too long, profit-hungry newspaper owners have been getting away with inferior products which do a disservice to their loyal readers.”

Journalists will return to work on Tuesday in the hope of re-opening negotiations with Tindle. Future action has not been ruled out.

We have been buoyed by support from across the country. We hope you can join us in our fight for survival!

Best wishes,

The staff of North London & Herts Newspapers

Contact: FOC Jonathan Lovett on 07917 871421

To find out more visit:

Facebook for Gazette, Advertiser and Press on Strike

Twitter: @StrikeGazAdPres

email: strikegazadpres@hotmail.co.uk

blog: https://strikegazadpres.wordpress.com

YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhP-BLkhbsc

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