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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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