Newsquest journalists launch national pay campaign
14 February 2019
On Valentine’s day the NUJ is calling on Newsquest to show some love for journalists and journalism.
Newsquest is the second-largest regional and local newspaper company in the UK and is owned by American company Gannett.
In the UK local news industry, Newsquest is one of the worst employers – it made journalists redundant just before Christmas in 2017 and 2018.
Many journalists working for Newsquest have had only two cost of living pay rises in the last 11 years.
Trainee journalists now working for Newsquest can start on £16,500 and some of the highest-paid reporters, with up to 30 years’ experience, earn £26,000. But the company has also started taking on editorial apprentices who currently earn the minimum wage of just £3.70 an hour when starting.
So NUJ members working for Newsquest have decided to come together and launch a national pay campaign on Valentine’s day. The campaign is aimed at putting pressure on the company to tackle its derisory pay rates.
Journalists are asking Newsquest for a decent pay rise in 2019 that reflects the huge productivity gains the company has reaped from cutting jobs and loading new technological requirements on to the remaining journalists. They also point out that the national living wage will be rising by 4.8 per cent in April so their pay should not get left behind.
NUJ chapels are submitting local pay demands which reflect local conditions but most are asking that the unpaid 3 per cent cost of living rise last year should be added to a further 5 per cent rise in 2019, making a total of 8 per cent or a minimum of £2,000, whichever is the greater.
In the last 18 months Newsquest has spent £13.5 million buying Isle of Wight County Press Group, NWN Media Ltd and CN Group in Cumbria. The company’s latest accounts show that its highest paid director received a pay package of £526,022 – up 9.6 per cent on the previous year.
Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ national coordinator, said:
"Newsquest chapels up and down the country have used the fact that it is Valentine’s Day today to fire an arrow of passion from Cupid’s bow to local management to lodge their annual pay claims. They want to show how much burning desire there is among NUJ members to start the recovery from the severe neglect of their pay by the company over many years.
"While Newsquest’s parent Gannett is fending off the unwanted attentions of a $1.4 billion hostile takeover bid by vulture capitalists, the thousands of UK employees in Newsquest cannot be ignored and condemned to exist on rubbish pay forever.
"That is why NUJ chapels are working collectively to give the biggest possible reminder today to bosses that they deserve a little more love from the corporate hierarchy in the form of cold hard cash for their amazing productivity, skill and invention. The largesse heaped on directors makes a mockery of the pay for journalists. The annual pay for new news apprentices at Newsquest is just £7,250 while the boardroom remuneration bill runs to millions.
"We hope today’s Valentine’s messages from chapels finds a receptive response."