Monday, July 07, 2008

Pay deal's signed and sealed

Journalists in York have reached agreement with bosses at Newsquest, bringing a ten-month long dispute to a close. As a result of the deal negotiations on 2009 pay will be brought forward and are expected to begin within weeks. Further talks are also planned to improve the union’s recognition agreement and the company’s pay banding structure.

NUJ members at The Press and the Gazette & Herald newspapers voted to accept a 3 per cent salary increase, but pledged to continue their fight for decent pay. The agreement ends a long-running campaign by the 33-strong NUJ chapel, which staged a five-day strike in May and another day of industrial action last month.

The agreed deal, which will be backdated to January, includes an increase of almost 17 per cent for new trainees and a 13 per cent rise in payments to specialist reporters. It takes the basic rate for senior journalists over £20,000 for the first time and includes increases in meal allowances and extra cash for Bank Holiday working.

Shortly after their second round of action, NUJ members were hit by news of eight redundancies planned in the editorial department. A total of 29 jobs are to go within Newsquest’s York division – about 14 per cent of the workforce.

Joint Father of Chapel Sam Southgate said: “These savage cuts demonstrate just what Newsquest employees are up against. The chapel still feels we deserve an above-inflation pay rise that recognises our hard work and commitment. But we also feel duty bound to secure the best deal possible for those who are forced out. We will resist any compulsory redundancies and we will carry on our battle against low pay. In the coming weeks chapel members will begin drawing up next year’s claim.”

Sam thanked all those who had supported the chapel during the long-running dispute. He said: “We were overwhelmed by the support our campaign received from fellow journalists and trade unionists across the country. From readers, local councillors and MPs the message was loud and clear: the job our members do is highly valued by this community. Our hope is that Newsquest bosses have come to recognise this fact and will begin to invest in their skilled and dedicated team of journalists.”

Joint Father of Chapel Tony Kelly added: “We hope Newsquest management has realised the anger and frustration felt by their staff over low pay, overwork and understaffing. We now look forward to taking part in meaningful discussions that aim seriously to address these ongoing problems.”