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Belfast Telegraph & Sunday Life journalists to vote on industrial action

10 December 2018

The National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland (NUJ) is to ballot its members in two Belfast-based newspapers following two years of pay talks and attempts by the union to secure a new collective agreement.

Independent News and Media owns the titles and the latest derisory offer from the company has prompted the ballot for action.

Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life journalists have faced almost two years of delays and procrastination from INM, and the union has previously opted to try and resolve this dispute by referring the case to the Labour Relations Agency in Belfast. However, the company has offered a meagre one percent pay increase, proposed to eradicate the acting up allowances, and demanded all minimum pay levels be removed from the existing collective agreement.

The union had lodged a five percent pay claim, backdated to June 2018 and this claim covered both employees and freelance journalists.

NUJ members at the papers have only received a one percent pay increase in 10 years, despite the company being profitable.

The collective agreement between the union and the company has not been renewed since 2003.

Ian McGuinness, NUJ Irish organiser, said:

"For nearly two years we have been trying to get the company to engage in a constructive and meaningful way. It has procrastinated, delayed and frustrated the talks process. In a last ditch attempt to try to talk sense into the company on these matters, the NUJ referred the dispute to the Labour Relations Agency for collective conciliation. Unfortunately, because of the company’s stance, that attempt has so far failed.
"Our members held a chapel meeting on Friday and they are frustrated and angry by the lack of progress. They see no alternative but to ask the union to start a ballot for industrial action, including strike action, to get their message across. The message to the company is simple - Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life journalists deserve a pay rise and they should be paid extra when they take on a more senior role.
"The company is profitable and can afford it. It is not too late for INM to recognise the contribution of their workers to the success of the titles and reward them fairly for their work.
"The NUJ remains willing to engage in further talks at any stage to resolve this escalating dispute."

Tags: , belfast, belfast telegraph, sunday life, ballot, pay and conditions, collective bargaining, independent news and media, newspapers, local news matters