'House agreement' promise averts strike threat at Express Newspapers

By Dominic Ponsford

Journalists at Express Newspapers have agreed to drop threats of
industrial action after receiving assurances that a new house agreement
will be in place by the end of May.

NUJ members number around 300 out of a total of 400 journalists at
the Express and Star titles and already have official recognition
enabling them to bargain over pay. The house agreement will be a more
detailed document providing a breakdown of agreed working conditions.

Management
has also agreed to pay back the day’s pay which was withheld from 70
staff who took part in a twohour walkout a month ago. Some 63.5 per
cent of NUJ members who took part in a ballot had previously voted in
favour of strike action.

Staff have now agreed to the original
pay offer of 3.3 per cent but remain concerned about minimum pay levels
– particularly the fact that many qualified journalists are on less
than £30,000.

According to Daily Star NUJ father of chapel Steve
Usher, trained reporters at Express Newspapers in London are being paid
as little as £22,000.

He said: “I think it’s scandalous for a
major newspaper in central London to be offering those kinds of
salaries. I would think it’s about half of what other places are paying.

“People come to us on low wages, get a good name and move on to a great salary on one of the other titles.”

Union
members at the Express titles have previously argued for a minimum wage
of £28,000. At the Financial Times, journalists agreed a minimum rate
of £30,000 earlier this year.

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