Thomson Reuters strike ballot beckons
The National Union of Journalists believes Thomson Reuters journalists may hold their first ever strike ballot in a dispute over proposals to impose a 1.25 per cent pay increase and a ten-day working fortnight. A further 1.25 per cent pary rise has been offered, varying on a performance basis.
Talks arbitrated by Acas on Friday failed to resolve the dispute after NUJ representatives turned down a £500 a year salary increase to compensate for the extra day’s work. Journalists are set to hold a mandatory chapel meeting tomorrow to discuss the offer.
NUJ national newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said: “There is a real possibility that if we don’t resolve this then there will be an industrial action ballot. Last year we succeeded in the integration of Thomson and Reuters, there were very large cuts in staff – now six months later they are trying to impose changes which will reduce people’s benefits.
“They are saying it is about harmonisation between Thomson and Reuters – but in that case there are also some significant pay differences which they should address for Thomson people.”
It is staff on the Thomson side who are on the nine-day fortnight, although the plan is that journalists moving from a nine to a 10-day fortnight will still work the same hours.
The NUJ fears that journalists’ natural inclination to stay until the job is done will see them having greatly increased hours.
A Thomson Reuters spokesman said: “As part of the harmonisation of terms and conditions following the Thomson Reuters merger last year, Reuters is migrating all staff in its London newsroom to a standard shift pattern.
“As part of this, Reuters has asked a small number of former Thomson Financial News staff to move to a five-day week. Thomson Reuters encourages flexible working and will consider individual requests in line with company policy.”
Three journalists to go as Kerryman resists “shares for pay” deal
Three journalists are being made redundant at Independent News and Media’s Kerryman and Corkman titles – amid claims staff have been targeted because they refused a management shares for pay deal.
The Kerryman was the only IN&M centre to refuse to sign up to a deal whereby staff give up between 2.5 per cent and 10 per cent of their pay in exchange for share options.
NUJ Ireland organiser Seamus Dooley said: “The company are saying the decision was a result of the trading position and not the refusal of the Kerryman chapel to accept pay cuts. We still think it is very concindental they are seeking cuts in the first instance in the region which has resisted the salary cut.
“The NUJ believes this is a case of unfair dismissal. The company has failed to produce selection criteria – they just went in and said ‘you, you and you’.”
Two sub editors and an assistant editor have been told they are being made redundant.
Evening Standard redundancies figure “extremely suspicious”
At the Evening Standard, Associated Newspapers has indicated that staff being made redundant will not get the statutory minimum terms, as had been feared, but will instead receive two weeks pay per year of service.
But there is still great uncertaintly among journalists about what their terms are under new owner Alexander Lebedev – and how many are to be made redundant when the sale is completed later this month.
Lebedev has indicated that up to 19 people will be made redundant – which is below the threshold of 20 which would trigger the requirement for a 30-day consultation.
The NUJ says it is recruiting members rapidly at the paper and met journalists late last week.
A spokesman for the union said: “We see it as extremely suspicious and fear that more than 20 redundancies planned. They seem to be making sure that they are not admitting to anything above 20.
“Journalists are very disappointed that after many years loyal service to Associated in many cases they can be treated in this way – in terms of not making sure that people were transferred over with their employment rights intact.”