Members of the National Union of Journalists at Alpha Newspapers in Northern Ireland will strike for three days from Thursday 21 April in a dispute over trade union recognition and pay.
The NUJ claims that many journalists employed on the titles earn less than £15,000 a year and it says that around a third earn the minimum ‘living wage’ of £7.85 per hour.
Titles involved include the Coleraine Chronicle and Tyrone Constitution, the Antrim and Ballymena Guardian, the Newry Democrat, the Ulster Gazette and the County Down Outlook.
NUJ Irish organiser Nicola Coleman said: “For years this company has driven down wages and pocketed the money it saved. It is inconceivable that an employer can be left unchallenged when it pays wages from the last century. This strike is to ensure that once again journalists in these newspapers have a union agreement that delivers fairness in pay, fairness in working hours and fairness in all aspects of their working life.
“NUJ membership across the group has rocketed in recent months and more than 85 per cent of the journalists employed in these titles are set to strike. They are determined to take a stand for fairness and respect. Journalists’ wages have not kept up with inflation and a 14.5 per cent pay rise is required to deal with this issue alone.
“All we are asking for is basic decency and respect and we are asking the employer to voluntarily choose to accept these principals.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “It was poverty pay that harnessed members’ anger and frustration and provided the spark to organise.”
“Journalists on the titles do not usually work at weekends and members have been asked to refuse to take on any work, unless already agreed, such as sports reporting. Freelance members have been asked not to accept commissions during the strike period.”
The strike has been called off.
The NUJ and the company issued the following joint statement: “Strike action has been called off at Alpha Newspapers following further talks between the company and the NUJ. The company and union are pleased with the outcome and look forward to a strong future for the newspaper group.”