Local newspaper journalists go on 5 day strike in York over below-inflation pay rises.
NUJ journalists at local newspapers The York Press and The Gazette and Herald of Malton have begun a 5-day walk-out over below inflation pay rises and continually worsening pay conditions. The strikers are demanding a 3.5% pay increase, in line with the offers made to journalists at other UK local newspapers owned by the same company, US media giant Gannet.
Both sides of the road outside the Walmgate offices are picketed, with a group of strikers canvassing for support in the city centre today being followed at a discrete distance by four police officers.
Workers on the pickets complain of the fact that US shareholders are currently "making a fortune" whilst their pay continually stagnates. Their daily strike paper, the York Stress points out that the business that owns the paper, Newsquest York, made an operating profit of £4.3 million last year, whilst the company's owners, Gannett, gave its shareholders an extra 18% in dividends in 2007. Gannet made a $1 billion dollar profit last year.
Both the workers and their strike paper complain of ever-worsening conditions and management belligerence:
Newsquest, a subsidiary of the massive American corporation Gannett - is refusing to budge beyond an offer of 3%. With inflation running at 4.2% this amounts to a real-terms pay cut of 1.2%, which is unacceptable to our members who have endured years of below-inflation pay rises. We have already lost out after the company announced pension scheme members would have to pay an extra 4% for the same benefits ...
last year, we suffered massive understaffing, meaning not only our members, but the quality of the paper suffered. The equation is always the same: more work for less pay ...
Newsquest is pleading poverty while raking in £4.3 million a year in York. That cash goes straight out of Yorkshire to satisfy Garnett's American shareholders who last year enjoyed $1 billion profits. How can this be fair when a graduate trainee at The Press, with a mountain of debt, is paid just £13,500 a year?
The most any non-management journalist at the company could ever hope to earn is £22,500 - even those with decades of experience cannot hope to break through this glass ceiling.
Whilst increasing workloads, contributing to already unsociable working hours, management has refused to move, even in the face of union concessions. A union offer to accept recommendations from arbitrators ACAS has been met with management silence.
The average wage in York is £30,000.