Black took millions, we got nothing, say outraged staff

Lord Black’s departure has raised concerns among journalists at the Telegraph Group

Journalists at the Telegraph Group are said to be outraged that secret multimillion-pound payments to executives were made at a time when staff pay was frozen, 40 journalists were made redundant and the office canteen closed.

One insider said: “We were being told to tighten our belts and all this was going on.”

Telegraph parent company Hollinger announced on Monday that Lord Black had “retired” after an internal investigation revealed that he and other executives had received unauthorised payments totalling £19m between 1999 and 2001.

In 2001 most of the 700 journalists working on the Telegraphs were subjected to a pay freeze because of the effects of the slump in advertising.

Journalists are now concerned news that Hollinger is considering selling the Telegraph Group will affect a recently submitted pay claim.

The NUJ was re-recognised at the Telegraph Group in May this year and the group chapel has submitted a claim for an 8 per cent pay rise.

Father of Chapel Charlie Methven said he had received more than 100 e-mails and calls from staff who were deeply concerned about the recent announcements by Hollinger.

“We are holding a meeting to address these concerns,” he said. “We want to find out what it will mean for people’s pensions, jobs and pay.

“There are certainly massive concerns among staff about what’s going on – both in terms of who might take over and what this all says about the state of the company.

“There are serious concerns that matters relating to Hollinger will interfere with ongoing pay negotiations.

We want pay negotiations to be connected with the Telegraph and how well it is doing as a group, not in a way that makes the company more attractive to future buyers.”

Methven said the pay claim was intended to compensate for the year that pay was frozen and to reflect the Telegraph Group’s profitability. Last year it reported pre-tax profits of £37.9m.

Telegraph Group editorial director Kim Fletcher said: “The fact remains that we are all working for an extremely successful and profitable newspaper and magazine publisher. We’ve also got an extremely talented staff.

“As long as we remember that and get on with the job in hand, which is producing excellent titles, the world can’t be so bad.”

Lord Black remains chairman of the Telegraph Group, chairman of parent company Ravelston and controlling shareholder of Hollinger.

 

By Dominic Ponsford

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