Journalists at Wales’ biggest news publisher on strike over pay dispute
Journalists at Wales’ biggest news publisher are on strike today over pay after negotiations ended without an agreement.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said that journalists at Reach, whose titles in Wales include the Western Mail and Daily Post newspapers, as well as their sister WalesOnline and North Wales Live websites, would be walking out.
They will join colleagues across the UK from news titles such as The Mirror, Express, Daily Record, Sunday Mail, Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Bristol Post, Birmingham Mail, and The Journal.
A strike planned for last Friday was postponed after Reach proposed further talks, but bank holiday weekend negotiations between Reach and the NUJ, brokered by ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, ended without agreement.
Join us on the picket line tomorrow morning 8.30-10.30am at Six Park Street, Cardiff.#CyflogTegNawr#FairPayNow#NUJReachStrike@CardiffTC @walestuc @cardiff_people @CardiffJomec @Journo_USW @gairrhydd @ITVWales @BBCWalesNews @CardiffMetSU @cardiffstudents https://t.co/e0MAF5gRm4
— NUJ Cardiff Caerdydd (@NUJCardiff) August 30, 2022
NUJ reps from across the UK and Ireland unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Reach chief executive, Jim Mullen, at a meeting on Monday, the union said.
They also added an extra strike day to their planned industrial action and extended the work-to-rule.
A three-day strike is now set to take place on September 13-15, coinciding with the week of the TUC (Trade Union Congress) Congress in Brighton.
Work-to-rule is a form of protest in which employees do not do anything they are not contractually bound by.
Reach had offered a 3% pay increase, worth £750, which was rejected by 79% of NUJ members in a ballot earlier this month, the union said.
‘Open to talks’
A Reach spokesperson said: “We greatly value our journalists and are disappointed that, despite our best efforts during a long negotiation process and successful agreements with Unite and the BAJ (British Association of Journalists), we have been unable to reach an agreement with the NUJ.
“Whilst this is not the outcome we would have wished for, 2022 continues to be extremely challenging for the whole publishing sector with reduced demand for advertising and energy inflation driving the cost of newsprint to record levels.
“We therefore remain focused on protecting the interests of all our colleagues and stakeholders, ensuring the group has a sustainable future in the face of an uncertain economic climate.
“We continue to be open to further talks at any time to resolve this dispute and move forward.
“Reach’s decision not to accept the NUJ proposal was not based on one personal opinion but on a consistent agreement at the senior level to protect the future of the business.”
In an earlier statement, they said: “We were able to meet the majority of requirements put forward by the NUJ and proposed an accelerated career development framework that would have set out clearer salary progression for journalists, so we are disappointed that our offer was rejected.”
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “We accepted the company’s invitation to talks brokered by Acas, but ultimately, the lack of willingness on the part of Reach chief executive Jim Mullen to budge an inch meant the negotiations were doomed to failure.”
“This is a business with cash in the bank, a business that is happy to spend £7 million on lavish pay packages for its top two executives, a business that is about to hand over a further £4 million to shareholders.
“Yet is also a business that believes its hard-working journalists deserve a whopping real-terms pay cut, and refuses to come to an agreement on pay that will ensure our members can keep themselves and their families afloat this winter.
“It’s shameful that a media company that positions itself as a voice for communities around the UK and Ireland, with many titles that claim to be an ally of working people, would choose to treat its own staff so shabbily.”
She earlier claimed that Mr Mullen “enjoyed a £4 million package from Reach this year, yet is intent on denying journalists a fair pay deal”.
But the largest component of the “£4 million package” – £3.1million – is part of a long-term incentive plan, awarded in shares and not awarded until 2024, it is understood.
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