Lower paid set for boost as Bradford pay row is settled

The journalists’ pay dispute at Newsquest Bradford’s newspapers has been settled with an agreement over new pay scales and minimum wage rates which will boost the salaries of the lower paid.

Crucial to the settlement was an agreement that the journalists should get at least £500 or the rise of 2.5 per cent, whichever was higher, offered by the company.

The £500 for those on the lowest salaries below £20,000 represents an increase of more than 2.5 per cent.

New minimum pay for newly qualified senior journalists will be £17,100 on the evening Telegraph & Argus, Bradford, and £15,000 on the weekly papers, which include the Keighley News, Craven Herald, Wharfedale Observer and Ilkley Gazette.

Specialist reporters and subs on the Telegraph & Argus will get at least £19,000 a year. The newly agreed minimum rates for trainees is £12,000 for those on the weeklies and £13,680 for those on the evening paper.

It is likely that the new pay structure will be replicated at Newsquest’s newspapers in Bolton. A new banding structure, with a £17,000 senior minimum, has already been agreed at the company’s centre in York where journalists have raised concern about rocketing property prices.

The NUJ had originally asked for a rise of 7.5 per cent and claimed that this still would not bring journalists salaries up to the average wage.

The union said a survey of its members at Newsquest Bradford revealed they averaged salaries of £17,900. Management argued that the 2.5 per cent pay offer was fair given the rate of inflation and the "fragile nature" of the local economy in Bradford, which had been hit hard by recent race riots and the aftermath of 11 September.

The NUJ chapel at Bradford held one half-day strike, supported by 34 journalists, and was planning two one-day strikes before the dispute was settled.

The settlement was brokered after NUJ general secretary John Foster joined the negotiations along with the union’s regional organiser, Miles Barter, and Newsquest Bradford’s regional managing director, Tim Blott.

Blott, speaking after the settlement, said: "I am delighted we have found a mutually acceptable solution."

lThe NUJ chapel has donated £500 from its strike fund to the Bradford Can… Appeal, a cancer charity backed by the Telegraph & Argus, as a thank you to everyone who offered them support.

By Jon Slattery

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