NUJ seeks urgent talks with Johnston Press over pay freeze
15 January 2013
The National Union of Journalists is seeking urgent talks with Johnston Press management after it announced it would be extending its pay freeze.
In an email to staff Ashley Highfield, chief executive, said he would be deferring the salary review until at least July. He said:
“I know this will be disappointing news, after a hard year and I realise it was anticipated that salary reviews would take place as from Jan 2013, but the success of the business is paramount. Provided business performance is robust for the first six months of 2013, there will be pay reviews starting in July 2013."
Last July the company said that it expected to pay a 2 per cent pay increase in January, if conditions allowed. Ashley Highfield said:
“The underlying weakness of the economy continues to create challenging conditions and in keeping with other media companies, trading was very difficult in the second half of the year."
Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary, has now called for talks. He said:
“This has gone down like a lead balloon with members who have been through a lot in the past year, taking on board restructuring, re-launches and a large number of job cuts. I will be asking Ashley Highfield to slow down his plans. The NUJ does not want to be negative, but we would like to see proof that his proposals – and his dash to digital – are achieving the goals he has set. Our members will see the continued pay freeze as poor reward for the huge effort that they have made during the company's constant programme of changes.
“It is vital that he regains the confidence of his staff if he wants to keep them on board to face the challenges ahead. Taking away their pay rise to service the company’s debt will not do that. This is a real assault on journalists’ living standards.
"In addition, the stress survey carried out among staff shows that journalists’ workloads continue to increase and the job cuts, which are being carried out in an unstructured way, are leaving the company poorly placed to meet the competition threatened by the launch of Local World.”
A senior reporter working for Johnston Press typically earns less than £22,000, new entrants can earn less than £16,000.