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Journalists at Wales’ biggest news publisher on strike over pay dispute

31 Aug 2022 4 minute read
Some of Reach Plc’s newspapers in Wales

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.

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.”

‘Pay cut’

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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One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago

3% is about average for workers (excepting senior management) across the private sector this year. The NUJ can argue for what they want of course, but consider how the press systematically demonises industrial action when it’s miners, firemen, doctors etc. How they try to undermine protestors such as anti-Brexit and climate change protestors.
Whilst these titles are not the worst offenders, there’s certainly an element of pushing an agenda. Previously comfortable thinking they were part of the establishment, punching down, now they know different.
Although this is just about pay, I’m reminded of the famous Rev Martin Niemoller quote.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Much of Reach’s output is dire. Here in Wales they seem to subsist on press releases from government departments. Apart from Shipton there is seldom any good old fashioned journo work that gets behind the smokescreens and facades of corporates fib merchants. Too many fine lunches funded by P.R agencies tend to stunt the inquisitive minds.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Firstly Journos that work for a paper dont determine its editorial line. Secondly i cant ever recall the Mirror or WoL demonising Doctors, Firemen or anti brexit campaigners – quite the opposite in fact! Reach make millions – they can well afford to give journalists a pay rise of more than a measley 3 percent. No idea where pastor Martin Niemoller fits into workers taking industrial action in a bid to get a pay rise to keep up with the worst cost of living crisis in our lifetimes.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leigh Richards
The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago

Click bait carp, always ready to join in the attacks on Wales, always emphasise the english viewpoint of Welsh news, now they want our support, jog on!

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