Pay freeze for all Guardian Media Group staff

Guardian Media Group has announced a group-wide pay freeze for the 2009-2010 financial year.

The move affects journalists at Guardian News and Media, and the regional newspapers division which includes the Manchester Evening News as well as GMG Radio.

The Guardian and Observer are the only national titles in the UK not to make editorial redundancies during the current downturn.

The announcement does not affect Trader Media Group or Emap – which are part owned by GMG.

In 2007, Guardian News and Media staff received a 4.8 per cent pay rise, with an additional inflation-linked boost from April 2008.

The current pay deal was up for review at the end of March. Press Gazette understands that the pay freeze will not be up for negotiation with union officials.

GMG said: “Due to the impact on revenues of the economic downturn, and in anticipation of worsening conditions in the coming year, GMG’s wholly owned businesses have decided not to award pay increases for the 2009/10 financial year.

“This applies to all staff and management within Guardian News & Media, GMG Regional Media, GMG Radio and GMG Property Services, and those working directly for GMG plc.

“No bonus payments based on financial performance (which account for the bulk of overall executive bonus packages) will be made for 2008/09. The remuneration committee has decided that bonuses based on achievement of personal objectives will be payable.

“The remuneration committee has also chosen to suspend the current executive bonus scheme for 2009/10. Any bonus payments for 2009/10 will be made solely at the discretion of the remuneration committee, and only if economic circumstances warrant this.

“GMG is a strong, diversified group, with solid financial foundations. However, it is important that our businesses take prudent, responsible steps to adapt to the current climate and prepare for what is widely expected to be a very difficult 2009. These steps are designed to protect those businesses for the long term and to minimise any impact on people’s jobs.”

The NUJ reminded GMG that it was obliged to enter into negotiations with the union.

The union’s head of publishing, Barry Fitzpatrick, said: “A pay review is due and we have tabled a number of questions to management to clarify the company’s position and financial situation.

“The company has already made commitments to conduct a pay audit and we have a right to be consulted over pay, so we expect formal negotiations to take place.

“We welcome reassurances from management that there are no plans for job cuts – and firmer commitments on this would certainly ease our negotiations – but the company needs to involve its staff representatives in any decisions that are taken.”

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear added: “We’ve not accepted the need for the freeze, instead asking them key questions about the company’s finances.

“Further information-gathering meetings will take place before pay negotiations next month.”

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