National World journalists to be balloted for strike action

  • 21 Jul 2023

The NUJ will ballot over 300 journalists at publisher National World in its ongoing dispute over pay.

The union has been involved in negotiations with the company since an initial claim was submitted in February. The claim sought a pay rise that would help members cope with rising costs, as well as measures to address low pay and pay inequalities within newsrooms.

National World has offered staff a below-inflation pay offer of 4.5 per cent, backdated to 1 April 2023. The NUJ has stressed that the impact of high inflation and growing living expenses will be easily consumed within that award, making it real terms pay cut for staff. 

Despite extensive engagement with the company including recent negotiation talks hosted by Acas, the publisher has failed to put forward a far pay deal for members. The NUJ will now ask journalists to vote on whether they are willing to take industrial action in opposition to the pay package proposed.

A group chapel spokesperson said:

"The decision to ballot our members is not one that we would ever take lightly but the journalists working for National World simply cannot afford to accept this offer. It would mean every member taking a real-terms pay cut as part of a deal that also worsens existing pay disparities within newsrooms and fails to tackle the appalling low pay in many areas.

"The pay survey we conducted last autumn shone a light on just how much many of our members are suffering due to a crippling combination of rising costs and stagnating salaries. We heard about members planning to leave the company or take on additional jobs because they simply couldn't get by on the pay they get. The financial pressures they are under have only increased since then.

"Now is the time for members to stand together and tell the company that it must do better on pay. We will no longer accept vague promises of better rewards in the future. We want a meaningful pay rise that helps all our members to afford to keep doing the job that they love - and that brings an end to unfair pay practices."

The union is seeking a fair pay rise applied to all grades and new starters. Low morale caused by varying salaries for journalists undertaking the same roles, has led to concern the publisher will struggle with retention as journalists consider alternative employment.

Members were further angered last month when the company attempted to force a settlement by threatening to withdraw back pay if the offer was not accepted by June 30. The threat was issued in the same week that more than 50 journalists were placed at risk of redundancy as part of a restructuring programme.

The NUJ has urged National World to introduce minimum rates, ensuring new starters and staffing moving up grades do not remain on 2019 rates that see newly-qualified senior journalists in some areas paid less than £23,000 per year.

Company leadership have refused to consider these terms, focused instead on using profits for shareholder payouts as some journalists experience financial hardship.

The union is calling on National World to return to negotiations, engaging in good-faith to provide a package that values journalists, addresses pay imbalances and resolves the dispute. 

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