MPs this week threw their backing behind the campaign by Newsquest journalists for fair pay after hearing that some earn as little as £12,000 a year.
Austin Mitchell, a Yorkshire Television journalist before he became an MP, spearheaded the move which was backed by Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and Labour MPs. They voiced concern that while executive pay at Newsquest rose by 43 per cent last year, many of the journalists endured “a real terms pay cut” imposed by the company.
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The MPs contrasted the £70m, which they said Newsquest made last year, with the £12,000-a-year paid to some journalists. They pledged support for the NUJ’s “Fair Pay Now” campaign and urged the company to “recognise the contribution made to the group by its journalists by giving them a fair deal”.
Fifteen MPs put their names to the motion tabled by Mitchell. They were: Mike Hancock, Simon Thomas, Julie Morgan, John McDonnell, Ian Davidson, Adam Price, Paul Marsden, Harry Barnes, Syd Rapson, Jeremy Corbyn, Lynne Jones, Ann Cryer, John Cummings, Lindsay Hoyle and Harry Cohen.
Others are expected to add their support.
NUJ spokesman Barry Fitzpatrick said: “We are very glad to have parliamentary support in exposing Newsquest’s treatment of journalists – especially young trainees who come into the profession with huge debts, which have to be subsidised by parents and family in order to work for them.
“Newsquest say they always have more job applicants than they have vacancies and that may be true.
A lot of people aspire to get into the media and journalism but that is not a justification for exploiting and paying really oppressive wages.”
He said that the NUJ is planning to hold a day of action at Newsquest centres around the country on 3 February.
A spokesman for Newsquest said: “No one is available for comment on this.”
By Dominic Ponsford and David Rose