Strikes due to go ahead at Wales’ biggest news publisher after talks end without agreement
Journalists at Wales’ biggest news publisher are due to strike on Wednesday after negotiations ended without agreement.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) had been engaged in talks with Reach, whose titles in Wales include the Western Mail and Daily Post newspapers, as well as their sister WalesOnline and North Wales Live websites.
The company also own the South Wales Echo and South Wales Evening Post, as well as a number of smaller regional titles.
A strike planned for last Friday was postponed after the NUJ agreed to enter into immediate negotiations.
But a Reach spokesperson said in a statement: “Over the weekend we have been in discussions with the NUJ in hope of avoiding industrial action, but unfortunately these talks have ended without agreement.
“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.
“We remain open to talks at any time to resolve this dispute and to begin to deliver these substantial improvements for our journalists.
“Our priority continues to be to protect the interests of all our colleagues and stakeholders, ensuring the group has a sustainable future in the face of an uncertain economic backdrop.”
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said members were angry and disappointed that the company has chosen to squander the chance of a settlement to the dispute.
“Despite a settlement being in touching distance following exhaustive talks at ACAS, with significant collective effort on the part of negotiators for both sides, the company’s no-show chief executive kiboshed any chance of a sensible deal that addresses our members’ key priority – their consolidated pay,” he said.
“NUJ members are clear where responsibility lies here, and that is shown in a unanimous vote of no confidence in Reach chief executive Jim Mullen.
“This is a man who’s enjoyed a £4million package from Reach this year, yet is intent on denying journalists a fair pay deal, even though the business has cash in the bank that could easily ensure its staff don’t continue to suffer the damaging impact of this cost of living crisis and a severe real-terms cut in salary.
“Failure to resolve this dispute represents a monumental failure of leadership on his part.”
Over 1100 journalists had been expected to take part in one of the most significant walkouts across the company’s UK titles including The Mirror, Express, Daily Record, Sunday Mail, Irish Star, the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Bristol Post, Birmingham Mail, and The Journal.
The NUJ said its members voted by 79% in favour of strikes and 88% for other forms of industrial action, on a turnout of 70%. NUJ Wales had confirmed to Nation.Cymru that members in Wales would take part in the action.
But on Thursday evening the NUJ accepted a proposal by the company to enter into immediate negotiations, which were to be overseen by Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
The union had said the decision to postpone the one-day strike was agreed by Reach chapel representatives from across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and if the negotiations did not reach a successful conclusion a walkout planned for Wednesday will go ahead.
The members also agreed to strike on September 14 and 15, with the union saying they voted by 79% in favour of strikes and 88% for other forms of industrial action, on a turnout of 70%.
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