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Ballot at Morning Star 26 January 2009

Posted by steve1917 in disputes, NUJ.
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At the January branch meeting, members pledged full support to the NUJ chapel at the Morning Star paper, whose members are balloting, as we go to press, for industrial action. After many months of getting nowhere, NUJ members have had enough. As a result journalists could be taking action over pay as early as this month. Management, in the form of lead negotiator John Haylett has already responded by saying “Socialists of any stripe should not be applauding the actions of a group of workers who are putting their own interests before those of our class as a whole.” He also added that all journalists were warned, when starting work, that pay was “crap” – well, he said it! The following report has been posted on the NUJ website:

Sub-editors and reporters at the title 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 in London 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.”

Updated news will be posted on the branch website as we get it.

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Thomson Reuters 13 January 2009

Posted by steve1917 in disputes, NUJ.
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Members of the National Union of Journalists at Thomson Reuters have rejected the company’s 2009/10 pay offer and are urging it to drop its attempts to impose a draconian performance pay regime on staff.
Union officials have invoked formal dispute procedures over the across-the board pay proposal of 1.25 pct, plus a further 1.25 pct based on performance.

The NUJ requested a settlement reflecting inflation and the impact on staff of an extremely difficult 2008, in which the merged Thomson Reuters sought about 70 editorial compulsory redundancies in the UK, which the NUJ prevented by forcing the company to offer voluntary severance.

The union has also made concessions in negotiations with management over this year’s pay offer, given the current economic climate.

But the union believes the company is being inflexible and unreasonable with its latest offer, which is well below RPI inflation of 3 pct and CPI inflation of 4.1 pct and even more so when the discretionary element is removed.

The union believes the 1.25 pct performance-based element breaches its house agreement, which calls for salary increases to be negotiated collectively.

The response constitutes an attempt to replace a fair and reasonable pay rise for all with a performance-related increase for a selected few, rather than a genuine effort to offset any potential impact on the company of the economic downturn.

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ Head of Publishing, said: “This below-inflation offer is effectively a large pay cut for people who worked tirelessly to keep the business running smoothly in 2008, despite the fear of job cuts and the disruption caused by the merger.

“The union is concerned that the company is trying to impose a draconian, ideologically-driven performance pay regime on staff, undermining our members’ collective bargaining rights and rewarding the few at the expense of the many.”

In November, the company announced an 8 pct rise in third-quarter revenues to $3.3 billion, a 17 percent rise in underlying operating profit to $676m, integration ahead of plan with $550 million of savings achieved by the end of September and expectations of continued profit growth, according to chief executive Tom Glocer.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said: “Given these positive results and the relatively upbeat outlook, the union regrets that the company has decided against making a fair and reasonable pay award to staff following a very difficult year. We will have to consult members and consider our options if our reasonable demands are not met.”

If the formal disputes procedure does not result in an outcome satisfactory to the union, members at Thomson Reuters have instructed chapel officials to prepare for industrial action.
You can get an application form and a postage-paid envelope to join the TFN NUJ chapel at Thomson Reuters by contacting chapel reps Frank Prenesti or Philip Waller, by calling the NUJ on 0207 278 7916, by emailing join@nuj.org.uk or by visiting www.nuj.org.uk

JAN 2009 Branch Meeting 13 January 2009

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Dear members,

This is a quick note to remind you about the first London Central monthly branch meeting of the year, which takes place tonight, Tuesday Jan 13, at 7pm at NUJ HQ, Headland House in Gray’s Inn Road, just five minutes’ walk from King’s Cross and St Pancras International rail stations.

The meeting, which is on the theme of Chapel Power, will include a discussion about how the branch’s chapels can protect quality journalism and combat job losses and poor pay deals imposed by managements facing pressure from shareholders to protect profits and dividends.

It will be a chance to share news and views about what’s happening in the industry with colleagues at national newspapers, agencies and other media organisations.

The meeting will be a useful preparation for the NUJ’s Jobs Summit, which takes place on Saturday 24th January from 11am – 4pm. The summit is a special one-day event being held to bring together NUJ members to help them take a stand against the redundancies, budget cuts and pay freezes currently being inflicted on our industry.
The conference is free to all NUJ members. To reserve your place, email: campaigns@nuj.org.uk

So please come along and join us at tonight’s branch meeting, there will be drinks in a local pub afterwards.