Johnston Press joins regional press pay freeze

Johnston Press is the latest regional newspaper publisher to freeze pay following the wake of Trinity Mirror and Newsquest.

According to the NUJ, the announcement means the company is reneging on a number of two- and three-year pay deals that have already been agreed at particular newspapers.

The Johnston Press share price has plunged below 10p in recent weeks – from a high of more than £5 three years ago – amid concern from investors and fears the company will have problems when it has to refinance £465m of debt in 2010.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Our members simply don’t accept that they have to pay the price for corporate failure. It’s incomprehensible that a company which made operating profits of over £178 million last year can’t now afford to keep promises to its staff.

‘This is all about the appalling financial mismanagement of Johnston Press. The company prided itself on massive and unsustainable profit margins, taking cash out of the business, whilst putting the company in the red.

“Now as those debts are being called in, managers can be found floundering, without any strategy except to cutback on already stretched editorial budgets.

‘The bad faith being shown by the company is unbelievable. We’ll be consulting our members about how they want to respond to the announcement, but anger is already running high so the prospect of action can’t be ruled out.”

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