Journalists say they'll strike over pay and redundancies

By Dominic Ponsford

Journalists have voted in favour of strike action at two of Britain’s biggest newspaper groups.

At Trinity Mirror’s Coventry Evening Telegraph and associated
weeklies, staff have rejected a pay offer of 2.75 per cent plus £200 a
year on minimum pay bands – and at Newsquest’s Southern Daily Echo a
strike is threatened over redundancies.

At the Coventry title, 40
out of 59 NUJ members support strike action, which the company says
represents 41 per cent of all editorial staff.

The union is
seeking a minimum rate of £14,500 for NCE-qualified seniors on weekly
papers and a senior rate of £19,000 on the daily. This compares with
the current management offer of £14,000 and £18,800 respectively.

Union
MoC Barbara Goulden said: “We feel that the best way for a newspaper to
value its readers and increase circulation is to value its journalists.
If you can’t afford to go to London what’s wrong with wanting to do a
good job at a good newspaper here, but people can’t afford to and are
always leaving to go into PR.”

A spokesman for Coventry
Newspapers said: “Naturally we are disappointed at this outcome, but it
should be noted that turnout was particularly low. Support appears to
be limited, with less than half the editorial bargaining unit voting in
favour of strike action.

“The company has already improved its
offer on several occasions, and has addressed each area of priority
raised by the union. Despite this, the NUJ chose to dismiss the
independent solution brokered by ACAS. The company has done everything
it can to resolve this situation, and the ball is very much in the
NUJ’s court.”

At the Southern Daily Echo a strike is threatened
over proposals to cut eight editorial jobs. The NUJ believes the cuts
are being carried out without proper consultation and the union’s 50
members at the paper have voted by a margin of 65 per cent in favour of
a strike.

However, staff have agreed to a new pay banding scheme
which brings the rate for senior feature writers and journalists to
£20,036.

The threat of industrial action also hangs over two
other Newsquest titles – the Oxford Mail and the South London Guardian
series – which have both rejected pay offers of three per cent.

At
the South London Guardian, union members say they deserve London
weighting. The current starting rate for NCTJ-qualified trainees is
£14,000, rising to £16,200 after two years and around £18,300 18 months
after that.FoC David Tilley said: “We’ve got trainee reporters who tell
me they can’t afford some days to even get the train into work in the
morning. Try living on £14,000 in London, it’s bad enough in somewhere
like Darlington.”

Newsquest declined to comment.

At the
Trinity Mirror-owned Liverpool Post and Echo staff have agreed a basic
pay rise of 2.75 per cent with larger increases to some minimum pay
rates. The deal brings the rate for newly-qualified seniors on weekly
titles at the centre from £14,294 to £15,000.

The minimum rate for senior reporters on the two daily titles has gone up from £18,225 to £19,000.

● Archant is planning to merge the subbing of its two Ipswich-based daily papers resulting in nine job losses.

Morning
title the East Anglian Daily Times (circulation 39,297) and sister
paper the Evening Star (circulation 24,896) will be affected. Eight
sub-editors and a designer are expected to go.

In a separate
development the Star’s Monday and Saturday editions are now being
printed at the company’s Thorpe site in Norwich. This means
significantly earlier copy deadlines so the Weekend Star and Grassroots
supplements can be printed in full colour.

Other editions will continue to be produced in Ipswich.

Comments
No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine + 6 =

CLOSE
CLOSE