Pay rise snatched away by Newsquest in York
21 November 2008
A pay freeze at Newsquest has seen local managers in York renege on a three per cent pay deal that had already been agreed. The NUJ has now written to management to urge the company to honour its 2009 offer that had already been accepted by the NUJ chapel.
After two rounds of talks, members discovered some 13 hours later Newsquest had announced a pay freeze across its companies nationwide, effectively blocking any pay awards up until 1 April 2009 at the very earliest.
The pay freeze announcement was confirmed in a brief email to all employees on the morning of 20 November from Newsquest (North-East) regional managing director David Coates.
The chapel said that they believe their acceptance of the offer on 19 November was made in 'good faith' and should therefore be honoured by management.
Tony Kelly, father of the NUJ chapel, said:
"The chapel took its decision based on an 'impassioned plea' made by The Press editor Kevin Booth in talks with the union on Friday 14 November.
"We feel it is outrageous that an offer is there on the table, we accept it, and then we are told it has been withdrawn. That is not how to conduct honourable negotiations."
The chapel said that the notion of any such pay freeze is intolerable, especially given that Newsquest (York) is expected to register a profit of £1million for the past year.
Tony Kelly added:
"In the past two years, we have suffered two separate rounds of redundancies, which has meant our members are working even harder and for scant reward.
"Now we are told that we will not be considered for a pay rise until April next year when the majority of our members are already having to face a second successive one per cent hike in their pension contributions from January.
"It was because of the straightened economic climate that we agreed to accept the deal, even if it represented a pay cut in real terms because of the pension increase.
"To have that offer pulled from under us is shameful.
"Therefore, we are calling upon the York management to honour the offer of a three per cent pay rise, which we accepted wholly in good faith."
The pay freeze comes just after the announcement that Trinity Mirror is freezing pay across the company.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:
"First it was Trinity Mirror, now we see how little Newsquest's senior managers value the journalists that have earned the company massive profits over the last few years.
"In York, our members had a chapel meeting and agreed to accept the pay offer that was on the table from Newsquest. Then that pay offer was snatched away.
"Have things really changed overnight? Or is Newsquest being opportunist and following in the slipstream of Trinity Mirror to squeeze a few more pounds of flesh out of their workers.
"Hard -working journalists will be insulted and outraged and our chapels are meeting to decide their response.
"The union nationally is with them and will support them in whatever action they want to take."