International journalists’ organisation to pay solidarity visit to Springer Nature picket line

  • 17 Jun 2024

A delegation of international journalists and union leaders will visit NUJ members at Springer Nature on Thursday 20 June, the first day of a series of strikes at the global academic publisher over a pay dispute.

Representatives of the International Federation of Journalists, in London to attend their AGM this week, will meet with journalists who are striking for the first time in the group’s history.

The collection of 60-plus journals, with a worldwide portfolio including the journal Nature, has been owned by international publisher Springer Nature since 2015.

The journalists have turned down a 5.8 per cent offer because they say their pay packets have not kept pace with the cost of living. Members have reported how they are struggling to pay bills and cope with rapid rises in rent, mortgage and childcare payments, are putting off having dentistry and finding themself unable to live in London where the publisher’s offices are based. The staff have also voted to carry out a work to rule.

In contrast, the NUJ chapel has pointed out how the company can easily afford a decent rise – the company made a 27 per cent profit last year and is able to advertise for two company vice-presidents with financial packages of $250,000 each. At the same time, the company has set an Article Processing Charge for Nature, and their other research journals, of €10,290 (£8,890) for authors to publish Gold Open Access — among the highest of any scientific publisher, and an 8 per cent increase over the 2023 rate.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“NUJ reps at Springer Nature have negotiated in good faith and have a very strong case for remuneration from this profitable organisation which relies on their experience, talent and sheer hard work. It is particularly disappointing to see the company put effort into unnecessarily hostile and inflammatory communications to staff rather than deploy that effort into resolving this dispute pragmatically.

“The NUJ’s position has been clear and consistent – we have invited the company to get back round the table and enter into meaningful negotiations with the union. That’s the sensible way to resolve this dispute and my offer to the company stands. The fact that our members have been forced into taking this action shows that greater effort is needed to improve industrial relations and to make sure collective bargaining operates from a position of mutual respect.

“The NUJ welcomes the solidarity and support from unions and journalists’ leaders from around the world, including many from countries where Springer Nature operates, who appreciate full well the vital role that editorial staff at the company play.”

What the staff say:

  • "In the past year, my mortgage has gone up by £200 per month, my energy bills have increased by £130 per month. That's £330 for just those two bills. That's an increase of £3,960 for the year (before considering rising cost of food, transport, etc). The company is offering me a salary increase of less than that. Just paying for a roof over my head and energy to power my computer so I can do my job is means taking a pay cut. I should not have to worry about how I will also feed myself while I work fulltime."
  • "I moved to Springer Nature thinking that working a for profitable company would at least be a benefit financially, but other than my colleagues (who are absolutely amazing) and the specifics of my job (I love the science), I feel like this has been a step down in my quality of life. Fair compensation is the least the company should offer."
  • "I was told recently by my dentist that I need dental work, but I can’t afford it, so I have asked if it will be safe to wait a few years. I am hoping to take on extra work outside of my full-time job to be able to pay for these dentist costs. I have several repairs that need done to my home, but I can’t afford to fix these things and worry about causing long term damage to the property. I work long hours in a complex field and am highly qualified. And yet I can’t make ends meet and feel stressed out every time I open a bill reminder through my letterbox."
  • "According to the BoE inflation calculator, my salary by now should be 9.6 per cent higher to account for inflation, just not to be effectively losing money, not to mention my seniority of experience being rewarded. 5.8 per cent is just a slap in the face."
  • "5.8% isn't enough as it simply isn't enough to account for the spiralling cost of living. In my case, my energy bills tripled last year. They've come down, but are still twice what I was paying before. At the same time the prices of many basics have gone up. My food bills have increased by around 20 per cent. To make ends meet I've sold my car and am forgoing many 'luxuries' — like fun mostly."

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