Two-year pay deal could break dispute deadlock

The NUJ and management at Newsquest are trying to hammer out a two-year pay deal which would end the long running pay dispute.

In the meantime, more strike action was planned by the journalists for Thursday and Friday this week, coinciding with the local government elections.

The latest strike would mean the chapel at Bradford having taken more than 30 days of action since turning down a 2 per cent pay offer.

David Coates, managing director of Newsquest Bradford, said: “The relatively few NUJ members on strike must surely realise after 29 days of action that they are getting nowhere. While the majority of our journalists are working normally, a number of young staff have been encouraged to believe that this kind of direct action, and the rhetoric that accompanies it, are the way to resolve disputes.”

Coates added that the company’s GMPU members had resolved their pay dispute by “sensible and moderate” discussion.

“Like the NUJ, they are aware that our profits in Bradford fell last year but, unlike the NUJ, they have accepted our offer,” he said.

A chapel spokesman claimed: “In public Coates makes these bullish statements. In private he is in detailed talks with NUJ negotiators and the two sides are in the process of working up a proposal – a two-year deal – to put to chapel members.

“I’m not sure 48 strikers counts as ‘relatively few’. It’s more than half of the 95 in the journalists’ bargaining unit.

“The people on strike include senior production staff, managers, award-winning journalists and people with 30-plus years’ experience on the job – as well as young trainees who are paid less than £15,000 per year and start on as little as £12,000.

“We are not the unreasonable ones. All we are doing is trying to resist the imposition of a pay cut at a time when our company is raking in profits at the rate of £20,000-plus per day.”

By Jon Slattery

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