Newsquest profits & can afford to pay staff more
11 August 2017
The latest results from company accounts show Gannett UK made a profit after tax of £44.81 million in 2016. This compares with the company's paper loss of £178 million in 2015.
The new figures also show Newsquest Media Group made an operating profit of £31.2 million in 2016, turning round a restated £47.2 million loss previously. The latest accounts also report that "the company’s debt of £390m has been repaid".
The highest paid director, Henry Faure Walker, was paid £479,746 in 2016 (described in the accounts as "emoluments"). He also received £16,925 pension payments. Using these figures (and not including bonus payments or shares) the NUJ has calculated that Henry Faure Walker "hourly rate" for his job on this basis was £254.
The accounts also show that both Faure Walker and the executive/finance director, Paul Hunter, were paid £26,000 for a car allowance and taxable benefits, and shared £230,000 in "performance related payments".
These profits and payments to senior executives were made alongside the payment of £36.6 million into the now closed final salary pension scheme. This is £29 million more than what was paid in in 2015.
Some of the journalists working for Newsquest have been given a pay rise. The staff pay increases have not been properly negotiated, they have been effectively imposed by the company after a series of inconclusive meetings by NUJ reps with their local managers.
The details include a 5 per cent pay increase at Newport for senior reporters and a 2.5 per cent increase for trainees. Journalists in York have received a 2 per cent pay rise.
Staff earning less than £20,000 were told they would get a 1.7 per cent rise at Stourbridge, Swindon and Oxford. Those earning above £20,000 were told they had a 1.2 percent pay rise in Stourbridge and 1.5 per cent rise in Swindon and Oxford.
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said:
"Newsquest’s corporate structure is opaque to say least but the publication of the latest accounts does throw a few shafts of light into the group’s continuing rude health – and the chief executive’s bulging pay packet.
"This shows that overall the company is still very profitable and exporting tens of millions of pounds profit to its US masters while at the same time being able to write big cheques to support the pension scheme and wipe out debt.
"It also shows that while Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker has publicly protested the rate for his job is a mere £149 an hour when official figures suggest something far higher, there can be no denying that he and other Newsquest executives are not on the breadline.
"Reports the union is getting from different parts of the country is that, under great pressure from chapels, stingy local managements are starting to pay more – albeit in a grudging and arrogant manner.
"Better pay needs to be continued for all - and without divisive strings attached as the evidence clearly is that the company has the ability to pay it. After a decade-long pay drought, this cannot come soon enough."