Archant Norfolk staff set the tone for pay

Journalists at Archant Norfolk are seeking a 4.75 per cent pay rise in a move that could set the tone for salary negotiations across the newspaper and magazine publishing group.

The NUJ gained union recognition at the Eastern Daily Press, the Evening News in Norwich and a string of weeklies last October and these are the first pay talks for a number of years.

The company has yet to make a firm pay offer, but has indicated that it will be in the region of 3 per cent.

NUJ negotiators are also looking for a minimum payment of £750 for those earning less than £18,750 a year.

Holiday allocations and bank holiday working are also thought to be under discussion.

Archant is the UK’s fifth biggest regional newspaper publisher and owns four dailies and 90 weeklies. The company declined to comment while talks continue.

An Archant journalist, who asked not be named, said: “The outcome of these talks may well be taken as the norm for Archant editorial staff throughout the UK. The traditional Archant pay year started on 5 May.

“The company’s been doing well for a number of years and for most of those years we’ve had very poor deals.”

Archant’s employee shareholder scheme had a record take-up this year.

Some 2,232 staff applied for shares worth about £900,000, meaning 81 per cent of those eligible took part.

According to Archant, staff stand to gain shares worth £500 for an outlay of £75. The company reported profits for 2003 up 13.9 per cent to £27.8m

By Dominic Ponsford

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