Averting a major split among the Daily News' newsroom employees, about 40 reporters and photographers decided to remain on strike Monday rather than take up an offer to cross picket lines and reclaim their jobs.

"We're willing to give the strike more time," reporter Paul LaRosa said Sunday. "There's no point in going back now."The News, hit by a walkout last week by nine of its 10 unions, had said striking workers were welcome to return to their old jobs at any time as long as permanent replacements had not been hired.

A group of reporters and photographers belonging to the 750-member Newspaper Guild sent a delegation to discuss the matter Sunday with Guild President Barry Lipton.

Some complained that the strike was called on the basis of a false report that replacements had already been hired to fill reporting slots.

"There's a lot of anger at the Guild leadership," said striking reporter JoAnne Wasserman.

But after the meeting, the group decided to stay on strike.