Morning Star journalists could be walking off the job next month in the first ever pay strike at Britain’s “daily paper of the left.”
Sub-editors and reporters at the Morning Star are balloting for industrial action after bosses at the newspaper tore up a commitment to try to close the pay gap with other national journalists, despite receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds in new investment.
The workers at the historic newspaper, which has a solid reputation of strongly backing unions and the labour movement, are demanding fair pay after years of accepting management’s requests for sacrifice.
Last July, after a fire swept through the Morning Star’s newsroom in Bow, east London, the staff worked through their days off to salvage what they could from the devastated building, and set up computers and offices in journalists’ homes to ensure that the paper never missed an edition.
National Union of Journalists workplace rep Steve Mather pointed out that the Morning Star’s journalists had “proved their commitment to the paper time and time again.”
Steve related how all the reporters and sub-editors are still paid far less than the newspaper industry’s average wage – leaving them on take home pay that amounts to little more than £270 a week.
“Every year we are told that we are a ‘special case’ – that the Morning Star does not make enough money to bring our wages up to the level of other journalists doing similar work,” he said.
“But this year, contrary to other papers that are demanding redundancies, closing down offices or trying to cut costs by making reporters do the sub-editors’ work, the Morning Star is actually proposing to take on new staff in the next few months,” he revealed.
“The paper has received half a million pounds in new investment – the largest injection of cash in the paper’s history - but our management have told us bluntly that not a penny of it is to go towards our wages.”
Fellow workplace rep Carl Worswick added: “We are not asking for thousands of pounds. We just want our management to keep their promises to us.”
“They have constantly pledged to address our low wages, but now that they have the cash they are refusing to honour that commitment.”
Carl continued: “Reporters at the Morning Star write every day about the struggles of workers fighting back for fair pay – now it’s our turn.”
The ballot result is expected in the first week of February.
For more information, dispute updates and to request interviews, email: mstar.fairplay [AT] googlemail.com.