Members of the UK’s National Union of Journalists have reached a ‘positive and welcome’ agreement with Bullivant Media, averting a further three days of strike action.
The newspaper publisher, based in Redditch, in Worcestershire has already been hit by four days of strike action, held on August 25/26 and September 1/2, in response to allegations of unauthorised deductions from wages at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, targeted compulsory redundancies and detrimental working practices which has seen non-editorial staff taking on editorial work.
It is understood that plans for five compulsory redundancies were reduced to three job losses last month.
A spokesperson for the Bullivant Media NUJ Chapel said: “We have secured agreement on working practices and been provided with details of the company’s editorial structure for the months ahead.
“This would have not been possible without the united efforts of a young chapel and the exemplary guidance and support from NUJ officials before and during industrial action.
“Our demands from the outset were fair and reasonable and based on the desire to produce quality journalism that serves our local communities.
“That is what our readers want and deserve. Quality journalism makes economic sense and is key to the survival of local media.
“Our thanks to the directors of Bullivant Media for the open and engaging way they approached discussions once meetings began, by listening to each other we have been able to secure a positive and welcome agreement.
“We sincerely hope this agreement heralds a positive and fruitful relationship between both sides going forward.”
NUJ organiser, Jane Kennedy, added: “I would like to pay tribute to all members of the chapel who have acted at all times collectively, they have been able to achieve a range of significant outcomes over the last few months as a consequence.
“All outstanding wages had been previously repaid and we have secured an agreement that the chapel have said should lay the foundations for better working relationships between members and the company. We hope that the positive approach to reaching an agreement this week will continue.”
Meanwhile, the NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, also commented: “Congratulations to all our chapel members who have stood up together in defence of quality relevant local journalism and fair treatment at work. We look forward to building on this improved engagement with the company at this difficult time for the news industry.”
The company runs weekly free newspapers and websites with titles including the Coventry Observer, Leamington Observer, Rugby Observer, Stratford Observer, Solihull Observer, Redditch Standard, Bromsgrove Standard, Worcester Observer and Evesham Observer.