• Short Summary

    Britain has said a temporary farewell to one of its great institutions, the 193 year old newspaper, the Times of London.

  • Description

    SV EXTERIOR "The Times" building in London

    SV PAN Times reporter entering building

    SV & CU Times reporter on telephone at Minehead, Somerset

    SV Times journalists at union meeting in London

    SV Journalists taking vote

    SV Management representative signs agreement with union official (2 shots)

    SV Chief executive of Times Newspapers, Mr. Duke Hussey, speaking

    SV Front page of "The Times" dated 30 November, 1978

    SVs President of Times Newspapers, Lord Thomson, speaking to journalist in Toronto, Canada (2 shots)

    HEWITT: "Staff at The Times turned up to work as usual today, with preparations for printing continuing until the last moment. But the formal announcement that publication would cease was regarded as inevitable. At Minehead, a Times journalist was busy filing his story on the Thorpe case."

    TIMES JOURNALIST: "All right, so we'll do the front page piece -- eight hundred words."

    HEWITT: "But his words, like those of his colleagues working elsewhere, will be read by no-one. Those Times journalists not preparing stories attended a last-minute union meeting to vote on management proposals. But, by a substantial majority, they decided they couldn't sign. It was another blow for the management, who had privately been expecting a favourable decision. But, by tonight, seventeen of the Times' fifty-four bargaining groups had reached agreement with the management. For those groups who've reached agreement, there were brief signing ceremonies. But it did not alter the decision to decision to suspend publication. However, the management tonight announced its important concession."

    HUSSEY: "We have decided that we will give no notice to any member of the staff for a further two weeks. This will give an opportunity for the general secretaries concerned, and their union negotiators, to help us to resolve all the outstanding issues over the next fortnight, while no member of the staff is under notice."

    REPORTER: "What did he say was the real problem with the strike?"

    THOMSON: "Production difficulties, manning levels, the implementation of new technology which must come, it must come. There's all kinds of speculation and anybody's speculation and anybody's speculation is just as good as mine, because this is a whole new situation. Nobody's confronted this set of circumstances before -- we certainly haven't and we don't know whether it is going to be short or long, whatever it is we're prepared to....."

    REPORTER: "What do you mean this set of circumstances?"

    THOMSON: "Well, this is very unusual for an organisation to all of a sudden, say stop, we've had enough. These conditions of productivity are impossible, we cannot continue to produce a business under these conditions. This is the first time, I believe, that this has ever happened. And we're not trying to make history. All we're trying to do though, is to put these newspapers right."

    The Times was founded in 1785 and is probably the world's most famous newspaper. Both the Times, and its sister paper, the Sunday Times, have lost more than 13 million copies this year due to industrial action. The management insists that the presses will not roll again until all the trade unions agree to a package of proposals. Apart from ensuring uninterrupted print runs, these would cut overmanning and pave the way to the installation of cost-cutting new computer printing methods. The House of Commons marked Thursday's events with a three-hour emergency debate.

    Initials BB/


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Britain has said a temporary farewell to one of its great institutions, the 193 year old newspaper, the Times of London. The newspaper -- victim of chronic labour problems -- produced its final edition on Thursday (30 November), before suspending publication indefinitely. But the Times, known to its readership as "The Thunderer", said it was certain it would be on the streets again -- as soon as its bitter labour conflict had been sorted out. This report from the BBC's Gavin Hewitt.

    SYNOPSIS: And in Canada, the Toronto-based President of Times Newspapers, Lord Thomson of Fleet, spoke to reporters.

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