Budget strike still on at Indy as NUJ knocks back new pay deal

Dominic Ponsford

Journalists at the Independent titles have knocked back an improved pay offer from management and are set to walk out on strike for 24 hours on budget day, next Wednesday.

Around 200 out of 275 journalists at the Independent and Independent on Sunday are in the NUJ.

A majority of those who returned a ballot paper said yes to strike action in protest at a 2.5 per cent pay offer.

Speaking after talks with management on Thursday, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “We welcome the progress which has been made in talks over the past 24 hours but the latest offer fails to adequately recognise the enormous hard work, professionalism and commitment shown by all editorial staff in helping to turn around sales at the papers.

"The strike vote shows staff are not prepared to see their hard work go unrewarded”.

The company’s latest offer is as follows, according to the NUJ:

"A 2.5 per cent increase on basic rates of pay backdated to January 1, 2006. This increase to be applied to casual rates also.

To address the issue of starting salaries and those on minimum rates we will increase the minimum rates by 5 per cent.

The company makes a commitment, up to April 2007, that there will be no redundancies in the editorial department.

Addressing the major issue of those long term members of staff who had no pay rise for several years under previous ownership – and in recognition of their loyalty and commitment to the paper – the company offers a £500 bonus for editorial staff who complete 10 years service.

Those who have already completed 10 years service will receive the payment in next month’s pay. Future payments will be made on the 10th anniversary of an employee’s start date.

The company commit to talking to the union about the possibility of consolidation of this bonus payment into salary in the negotiations for the 2007 pay round.

The managing editor will consult with the union on any reduction of staffing levels as part of a monthly meeting.

The management commits to enter discussions with the NUJ about training."

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