NUJ officials at The Independent are in talks with management to avoid industrial action over the union’s rejection of a two per cent pay increase and have expressed their ‘dismay’at the announcement of a round of voluntary redundancies.
At a specially convened meeting last Thursday, Independent editor Simon Kelner told staff of the across-the-board pay increase and said those who took the redundancy package would be offered one month’s pay for every year of service, with no upper limit. Kelner described it as ‘the most generous deal seen in Fleet Street for many years”, but said there would be no room for negotiation.
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The NUJ chapel will meet on Friday to discuss the possibility of voting on a ballot for industrial action.
Mother of Chapel Kate Simon told Press Gazette the strike action was still open, but the union was in talks ‘to get the best deal”.
She said: ‘Our members are being given a 2.4 per cent pay cut. It is established here that we use the retail prices index [to work out increases] and over the next few days we hope we can come to a better agreement.’The chapel is asking for a five per cent deal and a two per cent increase to the company pension scheme. It is also seeking an increase to the 10-year employment bonus payment from £500 to £1,000, and the introduction of a five-year service bonus of £500. Though Simon admitted the redundancy package was generous, she said the union was more worried about the journalists who will remain after the cuts. ‘We are obviously very dismayed that they want to cut jobs. It’s no secret that the staff level here is well below other newspapers and [the redundancies] mean even more work,’she said.
‘We are hopeful that the redundancies will be restricted to the absolute minimum.’The union has asked Independent Media Group bosses for an updated wage bill for Independent staff and claims to be the only national newspaper NUJ chapel to not have been given one.
Kelner told Press Gazette that negotiations were ‘ongoing’and that he would meet union officials again this week.