Strike threat lifted from Express and Telegraph

Concessions persuaded Telegraph and Express staff to abandon strikes

Journalists at Express Newspapers and the Telegraph Group have called off threatened strike action in exchange for concessions from management.

But in both cases they have failed to persuade owners to budge from initial pay offers of 3 per cent.

NUJ members at the Telegraph titles voted in favour of strike action last month and had set a deadline of last Friday for management to come to the negotiating table.

Although no ground was given on increasing the pay offer or improving holiday conditions, the Telegraph board has moved in other areas.

The concessions include:

Guaranteed union consultation over any redundancies involving 10 or more staff;
All journalists are now assumed to have union contracts unless they opt out. Previously the reverse was the case;
A minimum shift rate of £110 and casual employees to benefit from this year’s and future pay rises;
A commitment to bring casual staff working full-time at the paper on to staff contracts;
The setting up of an editorial health and safety committee;
A streamlined system for ordering chairs and other office equipment.

Telegraph Group Father of Chapel Charlie Methven said: “We’ll take up the issue of pay with whoever the new owners are. We are pleased that the current management are putting in the safeguards we have been looking for all along, which will help the company move forward.”

Telegraph editorial director Kim Fletcher said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve got the basis for a good relationship sorted out.”

NUJ officers at the Express titles were less satisfied with their deal, which was narrowly agreed by staff on Friday. While journalists in London voted against accepting the offer, they were outvoted by colleagues based at Broughton in Lancashire, and in Glasgow.

The deal offered by Express management included an extra £1,000 for 30 journalists earning less than £30,000 a year and an increase in minimum holiday allocation from 20 to 23 days.

Express titles FoC Ray King said: “It’s not a particularly generous deal. We feel the company is doing very well, making a lot more money and bidding for the Telegraph. The most important asset of a newspaper is its people.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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