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Thomson Reuters journalists in dispute over pay

8 January 2009

NUJ members at Thomson Reuters have rejected the company's 2009/10 pay offer and are urging it to drop its attempts to impose a draconian performance pay regime on staff.

Union officials invoked formal dispute procedures over the across-the board pay proposal of 1.25 per cent, plus a further 1.25 per cent based on performance.

The NUJ requested a settlement reflecting inflation and the impact on staff of an extremely difficult 2008, in which Thomson and Reuters merged and sought about 70 editorial compulsory redundancies in the UK. The NUJ forced the company to offer voluntary severance.

The union has also made concessions in negotiations with management over this year's pay offer, given the current economic climate.

However, the union has said that the company is failing to show similar flexibility and reasonableness with its latest offer, which is well below RPI inflation of 3 per cent and CPI inflation of 4.1per cent and is even more so when the discretionary element is removed.

The union has said that the 1.25 per cent performance-based element breaches its house agreement, which calls for salary increases to be negotiated collectively.

The NUJ believes the response constitutes an attempt to replace a fair and reasonable pay rise for all with a performance-related increase for a selected few, rather than a genuine effort to offset any potential impact on the company of the economic downturn.

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ Head of Publishing, said:

"This below-inflation offer is effectively a large pay cut for people who worked tirelessly to keep the business running smoothly in 2008, despite the fear of job cuts and the disruption caused by the merger.
"The union is concerned that the company is trying to impose a draconian, ideologically-driven performance pay regime on staff, undermining our members' collective bargaining rights and rewarding the few at the expense of the many."

The company announced an 8 per cent rise in third-quarter revenues to $3.3 billion iin November, a 17 per cent rise in underlying operating profit to $676m, integration ahead of plan with $550 million of savings achieved by the end of September and expectations of continued profit growth and an ability "to take advantage of investment opportunities that may result from market disruptions", according to chief executive Tom Glocer.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said:

"Given these positive results and the relatively upbeat outlook, the union regrets that the company has decided against making a fair and reasonable pay award to staff following a very difficult year. We will have to consult members and consider our options if our reasonable demands are not met."

If the formal disputes procedure does not result in an outcome satisfactory, union members at Thomson Reuters have instructed chapel officials to prepare for industrial action.

Tags: , thomson reuters, news agencies, pay, redundancies, negotiations, inflation, performance related pay