Daily Echo pays bonus to those crossing picket line

Newsquest is rewarding journalists who crossed picket lines at the Southern Daily Echo with a bonus of two days pay.

Around a dozen non-union members of the Echo’s editorial staff received letters from editor-in-chief Ian Murray on Monday informing them they would receive an additional day’s pay for working during each of two recent 48-hour strikes on the paper.

Members of the Daily Echo union chapel have accused their bosses of attempting to create divisions between staff and provoking further industrial action with the payment.

Chapel secretary Sally Churchward told Press Gazette that had bonuses been paid to all staff, the NUJ’s ongoing dispute with management could have possibly been resolved.

‘I think it is a real shame. We don’t want to go on strike we are all committed to our jobs…It creates an unpleasant atmosphere especially as we could have ended all this two weeks ago,’she said.

Those staff who felt uncomfortable about accepting the addtional payment, Churchward added, were welcome to donate the money to the chapel’s strike hardship fund.

A two-day strike was held last week which involved around 40 union members, 75 per cent of the Echo’s editorial staff.

The protest over an ongoing pay freeze, which included the suspension of some aspects of a minimum pay level agreement, followed an earlier two-day walkout in November.

Churchward said that following the November strike union members suggested to local management that a bonus payment would bring their dispute to an end. However, the suggestion was rejected and the second strike ensued.

‘I think a £100 bonus across the board would have been enough to end this,’she added.

Murray told Press Gazette that the payment was made to reward staff who had to take on extra duties during the strike period.

He said: “Staff who worked during the two periods of industrial action carried out extra duties and covered extra hours and this has been recognised.

“As such not everyone received the same payment. In my letter to those staff explaining the extra payments I recognised that no one continued to work through the strike action in order to achieve personal gain and fully understood they may wish to donate their extra payments to charity. That is their choice.

“I am surprised that the NUJ would not wish for journalists to be recompensed for their efforts. To suggest that staff not in work should receive part of the payments due to those who did carry out extra duties is patently absurd.”

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