A day on the picket line

I got the train down to Brighton today to show solidarity with striking colleagues at the Argus who are fighting plans to move their subbing operation to Southampton.

After a quick diversion to pick up a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the strikers, I hopped in a cab and headed to the Argus offices.

The picket-line could be seen from a way down the road, lots of placards made up to look like the classic newspaper promotion boards and a big banner calling on drivers to honk in support. And honk they did.

I joined the picket-line at around 12 and the atmosphere was fantastic. The weather helped, after a very wet Thursday, the sun was out at Friday lunchtime (though it didn’t last).

The younger members of the editorial team spent the time alternating between encouraging drivers to honk, cheering them on and singing popular songs – from Dexy’s Midnight Runners to the Carpenters – with the words changed ever so slightly.

There was a lot of support from local people; around a half to two-thirds of cars honked their horn – as did passing busses, vans and the odd police car.

As 3 o’clock approached, attention shifted to what was going on inside the building – the daily editorial building. We tried our best to draw their attention outside, shouting, singing and using the siren function on the megaphone. I gave a very short speech at that stage, pointing out that groups like Newsquest are destroying local journalism. They should be investing their profits in their titles and not giving it all to share-holders.

The only slight dampener on the day was that the expected strike at Southampton didn’t go ahead, as the Brighton office were looking forward to the impact two strikes together would have. However, they were cheered by the news that five other Newsquest offices – York, Bradford, Bolton, Blackburn and Darlington.

All in all, it was a good day and well worth the round-trip to Brighton (I had a nice kip on both trains). Solidarity forever, comrades, your fight is the good fight. And we’ll be discussing next steps at the NEC next week.

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Author: Donnacha DeLong

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Donnacha DeLong is an NUJ activist, journalist and online communications consultant with more than 15 years' professional experience.

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