Staff at Al Jazeera’s London bureau have voted for strike action after saying they have not received a pay rise for more than four years.
Members of the National Union Journalists and Bectu trade unions at Al Jazeera English, based at The Shard in London, have given notice to management that they will strike for 24 hours from midnight on 9 May.
Staff at the Qatar-owned broadcaster say they have not received a pay rise in four years, despite pay negotiations beginning three years ago.
After the strike, staff will take action short of a strike indefinitely from midnight on 10 May.
This will involve taking statutory and contractual meal breaks in full, not answering phone calls, emails and messages outside normal working hours or on days off, and the “withdrawal of goodwill”.
There was strong support for industrial action, with NUJ members voting by 90 per cent to go ahead with it.
An NUJ chapel official said: “Staff at Al Jazeera English have been very patient – we have had no pay rise for more than four years, and we have been waiting for three years for the management to improve on their original negotiating position of 0 per cent.
“We feel we have no choice but to take this action and the support for it is very solid, as was shown in our ballot result.”
If meaningful talks take place before 9 May, the two unions will reconsider the action, an NUJ spokesperson said.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “As we approach World Press Freedom Day [on 3 May], Al Jazeera continues its work around the globe promoting press freedom in the context of human rights and legal standards.
“Yet here in the UK, the company continues to ignore its obligations to meaningfully negotiate on the collective recognition agreement it has with its own staff.
“It’s time that Al Jazeera accepted that trade union rights are human rights too. There’s still time for Al Jazeera to sit down with the unions and sort this problem out.”
Al Jazeera English is headquartered in Doha, Qatar, (pictured) but runs its European news gathering, current affairs programming and live evening news output, including Newshour and The Listening Post, from its London office.
Press Gazette has contacted Al Jazeera for comment.
An email posted on social media, sent in December and signed by the company’s London HR team following talks between the unions and Acas, said: “Al Jazeera Media Network (which includes Al Jazeera International London) will not be offering a standard pay increase or bonus to global staff in 2018 due to global budgetary constraints.”
However, the email added that 17 staff members “whose salaries fell below the minimum market rates” had been given pay rises.
Al Jazeera is still facing calls to be closed down as part of a list of 13 demands from a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf states to Qatar over allegations that the country has been supporting terrorism.
Picture: Reuters/Naseem Zeitoon