Mirror pay row prompts union work-to-rule

Journalists at Mirror Group Newspapers’ (MGN) three national titles are set to demand lunch breaks, hourly screen breaks, and will refuse to work unpaid overtime next week in a dispute over pay.

Union chapels at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People have given notice that the work-to-rule will begin at 8am on Wednesday.

Members of the Mirror titles’ trade union, the British Association of Journalists (BAJ), voted 80 to 27 in favour of action short of a strike, after MGN offered a three per cent pay increase over one year. The union claim is for 3.75 per cent, reduced from 5.4 per cent ‘in a spirit of compromise”.

Members voted 61 to 46 in favour of strike action but a higher mandate was needed for workers to down tools, according to union rules.

BAJ general secretary Steve Turner said: ‘The industrial action has been forced on the BAJ MGN chapels because the company has procrastinated for nine months over negotiations… Retail Price Index inflation for the year ended 31 December 2006 was 4.4 per cent. The BAJ chapels have been reasonable in reducing their pay claim from 5.4 to 3.75 per cent.

‘In contrast, [Trinity Mirror CEO] Sly Bailey received a 41.8 per cent increase. If the company can afford such generosity to Bailey, it can afford to meet BAJ’s remaining claims.”

Turner said that the union’s demands amounted to an extra £250,000, as opposed to the £755,000 extra given to Bailey as part of her increased salary and bonuses.

The BAJ is seeking a minimum rise of £1,400 in London (to a minimum of £33,500); increased sick pay; improved pay for graduate trainees and ‘acting up’payments for journalists assuming management roles.

An MGN spokesman said: ‘We are disappointed that a minorty of staff continue to block a fair offer.”

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