Saturday, November 10, 2012

York journalists call for mass pay freeze protest

First off, thank you from the NUJ York chapel for all the messages of support from our journalist colleagues around the UK and for the donation pledges which have streamed in since our industrial action on Wednesday, when we were docked a full day's pay for taking a ten-minute mandatory chapel meeting.

Your backing and solidarity is massively appreciated and has heartened and inspired our members even more during a week which, while draining, has strengthened our commitment to fight for fair pay, together with our colleagues in Bradford and Essex who are also taking industrial action over Newsquest's refusal to reward us with the pay we deserve for the talent, imagination and commitment we show every day of our working lives.

But if we are to break Newsquest down over pay, it needs concerted action from chapels at all the company's centres. Taking industrial action can be a daunting step. But it is completely justified when your efforts and your ability are being ignored in terms of the amount which stares back at your from your monthly wage slip and the brick wall, plastered with excuses, this profitable company puts up whenever it comes to money (at least for its journalists, that is).

We can win this battle if all Newsquest chapels stand together knowing they have colleagues across the country in the corner. You don't have to suffer in silence - you can use the power of the union to force your bosses to the table and get the pay you deserve.

Remember, Newsquest's chief executive Paul Davidson was paid £598,441 in 2011, the last year for which figures are available. He and his fellow directors shared performance cash payments of £268,000. Directors were awarded a further £881,000 in the form of these mysterious and opaque "share-based payments". As for staff, the amount they received fell 7.5 per cent in 2011, with editorial staffing levels dropping by 108 jobs, or 6.8 per cent. And this is while Newsquest's parent company, Gannett, was making a £56.8 million operating profit.

The treatment we are forced to endure is unfair, insulting, dismissive and just plain wrong. We are the people who matter in this company. So stand up for your rights and join us and other chapels in fighting for those rights. There has never been a better time to show Newsquest just how much of a force to be reckoned with the NUJ really is.

* Follow the York chapel on Twitter at @NUJYork and stay tuned to this blogspot for our latest news. If you want to send messages of support or just want to know more about our fight for fair pay, e-mail Joint FoCs Mark Stead amd Tony Kelly at and

* See for more info on the York and Bradford chapels' call for Newsquest-wide action on pay.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Journalists take fresh stand over pay

MEMBERS of the NUJ Newsquest York chapel have today faced down their paymasters as their battle for fair pay continues.

Journalists at The Press and the Gazette & Herald walked out of their Walmgate office in protest this morning after being told they would be docked a full day's pay following a mandatory chapel meeting which lasted ten minutes - the length of a coffee break.

The meeting was the latest stage of the York chapel's campaign of industrial action against Newsquest Yorkshire & North East, which runs both titles and has denied its editorial staff a pay rise in 2012 - the third time in four years they have seen their salaries frozen as inflation rises, newsroom staffing levels shrink and journalists take on extra duties for no reward.

This is the same Newsquest Yorkshire & North East whose latest available accounts, for 2011, show the company made a £1.87 million pre-tax profit, saved £600,000 on pension contributions, cut editorial staff while recruiting more finance personnel and management, and also made a £44,000 "share-based payment" to unnamed recipients - but presumably including senior managers and directors - for unspecified duties, which smacks of a bonus by a company which is pleading poverty. That £44,000 is enough to pay the annual wages of two senior journalists.

At the same time, editorial staff in Darlington - whose paper, The Northern Echo, is also run by Newsquest Yorkshire & North East - were awarded a two per cent pay rise from the start of April, covering the rest of the year, but their colleagues at York and Bradford got nothing. And even the Darlington pay rise was, in the York chapel's estimation, nowhere near enough to recognise the efforts and abilities of their journalists.

Proposals by the York chapel as potential alternatives to a 2012 pay rise - including extra holidays, a reduced working fortnight while retaining current pay levels, a lump-sum payment and company shares - have all been rebuffed. This impasse led members to vote to stage mandatory chapel meetings at 10am every day this week.

Upon their return to the office after this morning's ten-minute meeting, members were informed by Steve Hughes, managing editor of The Press, that a full day's pay would be docked unless the chapel called off all industrial action planned for the rest of the week. The chapel refused and members switched off computers and left work immediately.

Joint Fathers of Chapel Tony Kelly and Mark Stead said: "We believe the management response to be intolerable and utterly unjustified.

"We are in the midst of legally-balloted industrial action, so to penalise our members for a ten-minute meeting is against all concepts of fairness. Our members attended today's meeting in the full knowledge they faced losing a day's pay, once again demonstrating their commitment to our cause, but remain angry and disappointed at the continuing intransigence of Newsquest management.

"We are not asking for the moon. We are simply asking for a fair pay rise from a company which is making significant profits for its management and the shareholders of its parent company, Gannett Inc, in the United States."

We'll be updating this blog as regularly as possible with the latest on the York pay dispute over the coming weeks. You can also send ideas and messages of support to and - and follow us on Twitter at @NUJYork. And we'd be grateful if you could post the message below on your Twitter feeds:

In York & Bradford @newsquestmedia have frozen pay 3 yrs in 4, while making £2m profits. Pls tell @EchoDavidCoates your views & RT this