Newsquest wins NUJ 'award' for low pay

The NUJ adopted a seasonal theme to make its point about low pay in the regional press by presenting Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson with its inaugural “Scrooge Award”.

General secretary Jeremy Dear dropped off the award in person at the company’s UK headquarters in Morden, Surrey.

He also presented Newsquest with a bag of chocolate gold coins and a copy of A Christmas Carol.

The NUJ launched a low-pay campaign in October specifically targeting Newsquest, the UK’s second-biggest local paper publisher.

The union has lodged its first groupwide pay demand at the group, asking for a 6 per cent increase over the next two years, with the aim of bringing minimum pay for qualified journalists on a daily paper to £20,000 by July 2005.

Dear claimed that executive pay at Newsquest had risen by 43 per cent, while journalists had been offered below inflation rises.

He said: “Newsquest needs to realise that to attract the best staff, to retain award-winning journalists and to improve morale throughout the company it needs to address its own journalists’ concerns about low pay.

“All people are asking for is professional pay for the professional job they do.

“In a masterful piece of irony, the company has run a series of articles bemoaning the high cost of living in different areas of the country – all of which were written by poorly paid journalists.”

Dear said there had been no central response to the campaign from Newsquest’s head office, but he added that locally negotiated pay offers varied from 2 to 5 per cent.

Newsquest’s Paul Davidson was unavailable for comment.

By Dominic Ponsford

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