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#DM16: NUJ to campaign against poor pay

15 April 2016

The NUJ will be campaigning for all members to be paid at least the national living wage after delegates heard how “increasingly professional, dedicated and university educated journalists are being penalised for their willingness to work long hours in the dedication to their craft”.

“It is a scandal that the bosses, encouraged by the overwhelming political creed of austerity, think they can get away with paying journalists as little as they can get away with,” said Paul Scott, who represents Wales on the national executive.

The motion noted that staffing levels had decreased considerably, “meaning employers are getting unprecedented value out of their staff”. 

In 2000, Trinity Mirror employed 13,000 total staff and had £1 billion turnover. By 2014, it had 4,368 staff and revenue of £636m, meaning revenue to employees worked out at £80,620 in 2000 and £145,673 in 2014; an 80 per cent increase of cash to staff in 14 years.

In 2001, Johnston Press had 5,522 employees and £292m revenue. By 2014 it was 3,242 employees and revenue of £265.9m. Revenue to employees was therefore £52,910 in 2001 but £82,017 in 2014, a 55 per cent increase.

At Newsquest, there were 8,470 employees in 2001 and £568m turnover and in 2014 this was 3,997 and £279m respectively. At Newsquest, there were 8,470 employees in 2001, and £568 million turnover. In 2014 this was reduced to 3,997 people with turnover of £279 million.

Delegates instructed the national executive to campaign for all members to be paid at least the appropriate living wage on entry to any job, and for this to be on hours actually worked, not just contractual hours.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said many members were on pitiful wages, suffering many years of pay freezes, with members in south London having to strike for 10 days to win the Living Wage for young colleagues. “It’s the same on the nationals,” she said. “Members on Express papers have not had a pay rise for almost a decade. The conditions are so poor people are voting with their feet and leaving the industry for better-paid and family friend hours.”

Chris Morley, Northern and Midlands organiser, said meanwhile the newspaper executives were continuing to rake it in.

“The pay of Simon Fox, Trinity Mirror’s chief executive, according to the company’s annual report, is made up of a base salary of £499,000, pension £76,000, taxable benefits 22,000, annual bonus £132,000 and a bung of £1.6m “multiple-year” variable. Where did that all come from?
“Can you imagine what the picture would look like if we could hitch our members’ pay to that of the chief executive in any given company and hold them to it?”

The motion also noted that pay remained low for many in commercial broadcasting, new media magazines and books, public sector communications and freelances.

Tags: , local newspapers, local news matters, trinity mirror, newsquest, johnston press, national minimum wage, pay, campaign, freelance, broadcasting, books, express newspapers