Walk-out Still On

The first strike at the Herald group of newspapers in a quarter of a century is scheduled to go ahead this afternoon, when all but a handful of staff are expected to stage a walk-out.

Led by the National Union of Journalists, the walk-out is expected to leave The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times each with barely five journalists – though it may be that editorial and production may be provided by the owners’ England-based titles.

A mass meeting is being held by the union at Glasgow Caledonian University. The action follows an overwhelming vote for industrial action following proposed sackings of staff at the Evening Times, as management seek budget cuts of upto three million pounds – which has already resulted in some staff taking up offers of voluntary redundancy.

Freelancers who do casual shifts at the papers, and who are members of the NUJ, will be able to access an union hardship fund to compensate for loss of earnings. And freelancers submitting copy or photographs are being asked not to do more than they’d otherwise.

Says the union: “We would obviously like freelances not to contribute during the strike
action, but we also don’t want to jeopardise their positions. The union is setting up a fund to compensate our regular casuals, from chapel funds, to avoid hardship. Some freelances have said they will not submit copy; others will send the usual, but no more.”

Meanwhile, the Herald group’s managing director, Tim Blott – whose father, Eric, was a full-time NUJ official – yesterday sent staff guidance on picket line procedure, which read:

“I know that many of you will not have encountered a trade union dispute before and therefore I enclose some information which I hope will be useful. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your head of department.