Trainees are big winners in News Shopper pay banding

Journalists at the News Shopper group in South-East London have settled for pay rises of up to 9 per cent and called off threatened strike action.

The basic pay rise agreed was 2.5 per cent but changes to the banding

system mean that most of the 20 journalists affected by the deal will get more. The lowest paid trainees are the biggest winners and their rises will all work out at just over 9 per cent.

The News Shopper is a 12-edition free weekly title covering South East London and north Kent and is owned by Newsquest.

Journalists put in a pay claim in December asking for a 2.5 per cent increase plus London weighting payments of £3,000 to £4,000.

NUJ members balloted in favour of strike action by a margin of 16 votes to two at the beginning of May.

Union MoC Linda Piper said: “We balloted and served notice to strike three weeks running but didn’t take any action because we kept on talking.

“The new banding scheme gives practically everyone a good pay rise.

“We are pleased about it and pleased that we did it without having to resort to strike action – the company was prepared to carry on talking and so were we and that’s how it was resolved.

“We were looking for something which reflected the cost of living in London, particularly as far as trainees were concerned. We were pleased that the company recognised trainees did need more money.

“Before, there was no banding structure at all – people seemed to have differing salaries depending on how desperate they were for staff at the time.”

The new banding scheme means trainee reporters will continue to start on £13,200 but go up to £15,200 after one year, instead of after two years under the previous system.

Senior reporters will earn between £16,400 and £18,500 depending on experience. Pay for chief reporters is £18,962 to £22,000 and deputy news editors have been banded at between £23,000 and £25,500.

Banding for trainee sub-editors is £15,735 to £17,500 and for sub-editors it is £18,000 to £22,000.

The rises are back-dated to the beginning of April.

According to the NUJ, the average increase for staff is around 6 per cent – although management claim the rise is lower.

At Newsquest’s Bradford and Bolton sites disputes have been less amicable, with journalists at both titles going out on strike in recent months.

NUJ spokesman Tim Gopsill said: “This shows that members all around the country, not just the north of England, are prepared to take on Newsquest and the 2 per cent pay

ceiling imposed by the company this year.”

A spokesman for Newsquest said:

“A pay rise of 2.5 per cent has been agreed with the NUJ chapel at News Shopper, part of Newsquest London.

“A new banding structure has been introduced into the Petts Wood editorial department, which is being financed through departmental efficiencies.”

News Shopper management and union officials also agreed the following joint statement: “We are delighted to have reached a settlement that will form the basis of continued good

relations between the two sides.”

Dominic Ponsford

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