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NUJ unity across titles in Northern Ireland secures enhanced pay rise from Johnston Press

6 August 2014

After almost a year of negotiations the NUJ has accepted a pay deal, covering members in the Derry Journal, the Belfast Newsletter and Morton Newspapers.

All three NUJ chapels rowed in behind a pay demand of 5 per cent at the entry level to be applied as a flat rate buoyed by the victory of the NUJ chapel in the Yorkshire Post who secured an £800 rise. Wages in Johnston Press NI had been frozen for years with the last pay rise of 2 per cent in 2010/11. According to the CPI the real cost of living, over that period rose by 3 per cent to 4 per cent per annum.

Entry level journalists across the group will see their pay increase by 4 per cent in a deal that delivers a flat rate of £625 for grades up to Senior Journalist with special responsibilities. Higher grades will receive £500. The £125 in excess of £500 will be paid 6 months after the pay review date.

All payments will be backdated to the pay review dates. In the case of the Derry Journal, this will be as far back as July 2013. New posts created as a result of the recent editorial restructure will not benefit from this pay deal, but the company has committed to entering into negotiations with the NUJ on behalf of those members shortly.

Management's claim that Johnston Press could not afford to meet the union's demand was ridiculed when news broke of massive bonuses being paid to company directors. In the face of such double standards, a petition citing the huge directors' salaries and calling on management to concede to the pay claim, received massive support from all quarters.

Through a concerted campaign of organising and recruitment over the period the NUJ’s numbers swelled and the union built real collective strength in the workplace, with a team of dedicated reps and activists who communicated with, encouraged and involved each and every member in the campaign.

Nicola Coleman, NUJ Irish organiser, said:

"The NUJ chapels in Northern Ireland are the only ones in the JP group, apart from the Yorkshire Post who achieved anything in excess of management’s original offer. While we accepted a compromise on our demands this is an achievement to be immensely proud of. It proves that together we really are stronger."

Paul Wilkinson, Mortons FOC, said:

"That we have secured an enhanced pay offer, a notably significant achievement, is thanks to the collective resolve, active participation and demonstrable unity of members, who must now remain resolute, active and united going forward.
"We did not achieve all we sought to achieve and while compromise is an inevitable part of any protracted negotiation worthy of the name, much is still to be addressed, in which respect we must remain committed to the best interests of all our colleagues and of our profession itself."

Michael Wilson, Derry Journal FOC, said:

"This pay deal may not have been ideal but it does, nonetheless, highlight the collective strength that still exits within the Derry Journal Chapel for whom the protracted negotiations lasted more than 12 months. That same unity will be crucial as we move forward to this year's pay negotiations which are due to begin shortly.
"I also feel it is important to acknowledge the contribution of a number of long serving and highly valued members of the Derry Journal Chapel who, despite not benefiting personally from the compromised deal, worked hard to help secure the agreement which would benefit the majority of our Chapel members.
"These are demanding times for Journalism as a whole. New challenges have brought with them increased workloads and heightened pressures for NUJ members but they are challenges that local journalists are meeting head on. In such an environment, the role of the NUJ remains key."

Tags: , ireland, newspapers, johnston press, derry journal, belfast newsletter, morton newspapers, pay, negotiations, yorkshire post