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Independent News and Media journalists urged to resist cuts

16 January 2009

The NUJ's Irish Executive Council (IEC) is urging members at Independent News and Media (INM) not to sign up to a company-wide campaign to reduce wages.

INM is demanding that individuals accept a pay cut of up to 10 per cent within the next week. In addition to this cut, the company is trying to enforce a pay freeze through non-payment of the national wage agreement and is refusing to abide by the industrial relations machinery under the national Towards 2016 agreement.

At a meeting of INM chapels yesterday, representatives agreed to hold local meetings in the coming days to demand that the company negotiate directly with the union instead of seeking to impose unilateral cuts. While the company has given assurances in relation to negotiations in the future, the chapel representatives decided that the insistence on pay cuts undermines the process of collective bargaining.

The iEC motion was passed by the IEC:

This IEC believes the INM attempt to impose a wages cut on staff is a cynical and opportunistic attempt to take advantage of the economic downturn to undermine collective bargaining rights at the group.

Council calls on all NUJ staff at INM to resist the proposed salary cut and to insist that the group conducts pay negotiations through the established collective procedures laid down in House Agreements.

IEC resolves to support with all means and resources at its disposal, all members who face intimidation and coercion by INM management due to their defence of their collective bargaining rights.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said:

"In the run up to Christmas, the company circulated forms requiring staff to sign up individually to a permanent reduction in pay. In addition, the company is seeking to walk away from the collective bargaining process in respect to the increases due under Towards 2016.
"Many members are being placed under intense pressure from line managers, with the clear threat of enforced redundancies if 100 per cent acceptance of a so-called 'voluntary' process is not forthcoming.
"The company believes that those who do not accept pay cuts are legitimate targets in any redundancy selection. This union will not accept intimidation from any quarter and will insist that the rights of our members are upheld.
"It is a right not to accept an individual reduction in wages, it is a right not to accept membership of a share option scheme and it is a right not to be unfairly selected for redundancy on the basis of asserting your legal entitlements. No one, regardless of rank or status, can undermine these basic rights.
"Sir Anthony O'Reilly must recognise that collective agreements have served INM extremely well over the years and the trade unions at Independent Newspapers have played their part in building up his empire.
"INM Chairman Dr Brian Hillery, former Professor of Industrial Relations at UCD, might well reflect on the long term implications of breaking agreements with trade unions. The ink is not dry on some of these agreements; in one case we have not even had the opportunity to formally sign an agreement, which sets out procedures, which are now being set aside.
"For a company which lectures politicians and trade unions about best practice, this behaviour is both unacceptable and hypocritical."

Tags: , newspapers, pay, pay cut, cuts, independent news and media, iec, collective bargaining, intimidation