Morning Star strike 'will close paper', journalists warned

A strike at the Morning Star, the left-wing daily, will ‘secure the closure of the paper’, journalists have been warned.

Staff on the title have rejected the latest pay offer – a three per cent increase, plus a one-off, three per cent lump sum – which they believe is ‘an effective pay cut”.

They believe wages should increase after the paper received a £500,000 donation, spread over three years.

The result of the strike ballot is due on Thursday.

But, in a forum post on socialistunity.com, John Haylett, Morning Star political editor and lead negotiator of the People’s Press Printing Society, the paper’s co-operative, wrote: ‘Wages are low at our paper for the same reason that they are so at every other socialist paper.

‘We have low circulation and no access to the big business advertising that keeps every capitalist daily paper in being.

‘All socialist papers are sustained on the basis of sacrifice by staff and supporters. The Morning Star, as the world’s only English-language daily broad-left socialist newspaper, is no different.

‘To present this committee as akin to boards of fat-cat directors who trouser dividends and bonuses is a travesty.

‘Every Morning Star staff member is told bluntly at interview: ‘The wages are crap. We work at the paper because we are politically committed to its aims’.”

Haylett added that his salary, ‘as editor after a quarter-century at the Star’was £21,000.

‘If journalists go on strike, they will still not secure an increase,’he wrote.

‘They will secure the closure of the Morning Star after 71 years. Socialists of any stripe should not be applauding the actions of a group of workers who are putting their own interests before those of our class as a whole.”

But, after Haylett wrote directly to staff to offer the pay deal, National Union of Journalists general secretary Jeremy Dear wrote to Haylett to insist the union ‘cannot accept the unilateral imposition’of a ‘below-inflation deal”.

Dear added: ‘Your comments on the Socialist Unity website …do nothing to resolve the dispute. Instead they escalate it.”

Workplace representative Steve Mather said: ‘Ironically, Morning Star journalists were informed that the pay cut would be imposed on them on the very same day that our paper carried a feature story about ‘staff who fought an imposed wage deal.

“Imposing a pay deal is a classic bosses’ tactic to undermine workplace organisation and collective bargaining. Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves.”

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