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New Year chill – Newsquest papers start 2012 with pay freeze

15 December 2011

NUJ chapels of Newsquest's titles – which includes the Glasgow Herald & Times and Northern Echo – are reporting a freeze on pay rises from January, with the option of a "review" later in the year.

The newspaper group, which publishes more than 200 newspapers, magazines and trade publications in the UK, including 17 paid-for dailies, appears to be following suit with Trinity Mirror which has also announced a pay freeze.

Newsquest staff in York, Darlington, Bradford, in South Essex, Bolton and Bury and on the Glasgow Herald & Times have all been told that their pay will be frozen, with a review later in the year.

The NUJ will be asking the Newsquest titles to justify this move. While thousands of staff were forced into the second year of a pay standstill in 2009, company accounts show that the pay of Paul Davidson, chief executive, shot up by 21.5% to £609,000.

Figures from last year show that, despite using the economic situation to force through redundancies and other cutbacks, such as unpaid leave, individual companies within Newsquest (Newsquest Midlands South) made a 40% profit. Journalists on a Newsquest daily or weekly title can earn typically between £18,000-£24,000.

Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands Organiser, said:

"We now have growing evidence that Newsquest is trying to bring in a pay freeze across the group by stealth for 2012 at a time of unprecedented hardship for our members. If there is no increase in 2012, it will be the third year in four that salaries have failed to rise.
"This is unsustainable for massively hard-pressed staff who have not only had to contend with a 5 per cent erosion of their pay by inflation, but also had to take heavier workloads due to waves of redundancies.
"We know from past experience that the pain is not necessarily shared by the fat cats in the boardroom and the NUJ challenges the directors to publish their remuneration packages in full for 2012. If they refuse to do this, then there will be few of their loyal staff who will believe that they are truly all in it together when it comes to belt-tightening."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"I am very sceptical when newspaper groups get on the bandwagon of pay freezes without any real justification. Newsquest staff have done all they can to support the management in the recent hard times; it's time that they are recognised for this and that they are paid a fair wage. Is a pay freeze really the best way for Newsquest to kick off 2012?"

Newsquest is one of the UK's largest regional newspaper publishers with more than 200 newspapers, magazines and trade publications, including 17 paid-for dailies. Daily titles include The Herald (Glasgow), The Northern Echo (Darlington), Telegraph & Argus (Bradford), Evening Times (Glasgow), Southern Daily Echo (Southampton), The Argus (Brighton), The Press (York), Oxford Mail and South Wales Argus (Newport). Newsquest employs more than 5,000 people across the UK and is owned by the American company, Gannett.

Tags: , regional newspapers, pay freeze, bury, bolton, darlington, gannett, bradford, newsquest, essex, glasgow, pay, york, newspapers