Journalists in York are “furious” after being told they will be docked a day’s pay after taking industrial action – hours after being told they would not lose money.
Returning to work after a 10am mandatory meeting, which last just 10 minutes, they were told talks over the pay claim would be held in the new year, with Press managing editor Steve Hughes saying no wages would be docked, according to the National Union of Journalists.
But just three hours later members were told they would lose a full day’s pay after articles about the industrial action appeared in the trade press.
The journalists are involved in an on-going dispute with the company over a third pay freeze in four years. According to the NUJ, the journalists staged a second walk-out after being told their pay would be docked.
In a joint statement, fathers of the chapel Tony Kelly and Mark Stead said the U-turn was “embarrassing” and “double-dealing”.
Our members took action today fully aware of the potential consequences and did so because principles mean more than money.
What we cannot tolerate is that we are the victims of management misinformation. We were explicitly told we would not be docked pay, only for this to be U-turned on hours later.
Members have worked for more than half a day under false pretences and essentially for free. This has left an extremely bitter taste and an atmosphere of immense distrust at a time when there was hope of progress being made in this dispute.
We cannot accept this ridiculous and unfair treatment. We are absolutely furious and it is a huge setback in terms of reaching a solution.
Northern and Midlands Organiser Chris Morley said:
I am deeply shocked by the volte face carried out by management in which members were persuaded to suspend their industrial action and return to their desks - only to be informed hours later they would be docked pay anyway.
This is truly outrageous behaviour by the company and potentially has seriously put back the possibility of finding a solution to this crisis as members rightly feel betrayed and provoked by their own company.
After a year in which management has led the chapel along with promises of periodic reviews of the pay situation which resulted in a big fat zero increase yet again for members, confidence in what the company says is at an all-time low.
By double dealing in this way, the senior managers have poured petrol on a dispute that just will not go away until they show a real commitment to tackle the growing hardship for a well-trained, experienced and award-winning team of journalists. The measly sum saved by this action of docking pay will probably pay for just a few days of the directors' annual - and ill deserved - bonus.
Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson was unavailable for comment.