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Newsquest boss pockets £1.5m as staff denied an across-the-board pay rise for the tenth year running

17 January 2017

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker collected a pay package worth up to a maximum of £1.5 million – the equivalent to hiring 75 newly qualified journalists, according to the latest official figures obtained by the NUJ.

The information came to light at the same time as Newsquest staff, who have not have an across-the-board pay increase in the past nine years, were told by the company: “We are not in a position to offer an increase in 2017.”

Henry Faure Walker amassed a total of $US1,718,503 in salary, cash and share bonuses, pension, health and life insurance in 2015 – including $9,000 (£8,000) for his company car, according to figures filed with the American Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

The largesse shown by US parent company Gannett Inc to Mr Faure Walker has continued unabated just weeks ago with a New Year’s shares handout worth £170,0000  ($205,000).

The disclosure comes as NUJ chapels throughout the group seek to break a corporate stranglehold on staff pay. More than a dozen chapels submitted pay claims in October worth £1,500 to a senior journalist on £20,000. Michelle Stanistreet, the union's general secretary, sent a direct request to Mr Faure Walker to increase staff salaries; he declined to rely and a company statement said it insisted on individual bargaining.

Since then, most chapels have had identical responses from local managers to the union's 12-point claim: “We are not in a position to offer an increase in 2017.”

However, it is clear that the belt-tightening imposed on staff does not apply to the chief executive.

The summary of Mr Faure Walker’s “compensation” in the documents filed with the SEC show: his basic pay in 2015 was $474,000 (£400,000); cash bonus of $352,000 (£297,000); shares bonus worth up to $720,000 (£607,000) if all performance targets are met; and $172,000 (£145,000) for pension, health and life insurance, plus a company car.

The latest free shares given to Mr Faure Walker at the turn of the year do not have any conditions attached apart from him having to wait until the end of 2019 to cash them in.

News of the boardroom bonanza was revealed to shocked reps at a meeting of the Newsquest NUJ Group Chapel. A statement from the group chapel said:

“We always knew that the chief executive enjoyed a very large pay packet, but this is the first time all the luxury trimmings have been fully revealed. Our members will be livid to hear this news while being expected to pull in their belts yet another notch and endure yet another another pay freeze, when they are already on poverty pay and inflation looks set to rise.

“What is particularly galling is that, as the newsroom cuts continue, and the jobs of experienced journalists going, newspapers are so short-staffed they are struggling to provide the sort of service their local communities require and deserve.

“The fact that the boss’s remuneration could pay for 75 more journalists shows just how out of kilter a greedy management is with its journalists; this has to stop. Chapels and the union nationally will continue to press the case for a vital pay increase to members in 2017.”

Henry Faure Walker's pay deals and those of other members of the Gannett board

The SEC announcement about Mr Faure Walker’s New Year share gift

The conversion of dollar figures to pound sterling is at current  typical retail exchange rates.

Newsletter to Newsquest members

Tags: , local newspapers, local news matters, newsquest, henry faure walker, pay, executive pay, perks, newsquest group chapel