Newsquest pay freeze end in sight with 2% offer

The two-and-a-half year pay freeze endured by Newsquest journalists could be about to end as staff at a number of its centres have been offered a pay increase.

Newsquest has offered a two per cent pay increase to editorial staff working on The Northern Echo in Darlington, The Press in York and at its centre in Bradford.

Press Gazette understands that other Newsquest centres across the UK may have received similar offers for a 2011 pay increase.

The two per cent offer comes after months of unrest across the company over the pay freeze, pension reform, job cuts and changes to working practices.

Thirteen National Union of Journalists Newsquest chapels are either engaged in ballots or have already successfully balloted for industrial action over disputes with their employer.

Journalists at Bradford suspended industrial action set to take place today to explore the offer made by the company. However, it is not certain that staff working across Newsquest will immediately accept the offer of a pay rise.

Journalists working for Newsquest at Darlington are understood to have asked for an eight per cent pay increase – in part as compensation for losing out on any hikes in salary since the pay freeze was implemented in July, 2008.

‘We want to now get into proper negotiations with two per cent as a starting point,’said Chris Morley, NUJ’s northern England organiser.

‘The company says that [two per cent] is its full and final offer. We will wait and see on that, but it has opened the way for further negotiations.”

Newsquest is still facing the possibility of a cross-company walkout early next year in protest at the pay freeze and a number of differences with local NUJ chapels.

Morley told Press Gazette there was still huge anger within Newsquest and the company had to do ‘a hell of a lot’to win back the confidence of its staff.

It was unrealistic, he added, for Newsquest to assume that everything would be put right with its two per cent pay offer.

‘It has got to be a sensible offer. I suspect that Newsquest knows it is in a hole, it knows there is massive discontent at almost all its centres and they are trying to buy off that discontent,’he added.

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