National World “solid performance” results must be reinvested into journalists’ pay

  • 31 Jul 2023

NUJ urges improved pay award as half year results indicate growth in digital revenue and strong cash balance.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has welcomed National World’s half year results revealing a £22m cash balance, and leadership “confidence in the ongoing strong cash generation of the business.”  

Journalists at the publisher of titles including The Scotsman, The Sheffield Star and Yorkshire Evening Post have faced recent painful redundancies while engaged in a dispute over pay. The NUJ is urging the company to increase its imposed below-inflation 4.5 per cent pay award, to reflect the commitment from journalists and growing digital revenue figures, detailed in its report. Today’s figures revealing nine per cent growth in digital revenues, and 67 per cent in video advertising have already led to an increase in the company’s share price.  

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:

“The upbeat message in today’s National World half year results must be reflected in its journalists’ pay. With a £22m cash pile and having paid the final instalment of £2.5m for the acquisition of the business, the company is claiming it has ‘significant financial flexibility and headroom for investment.'

“The results make clear that the company’s journalists are doing more with less and there has just been an utterly grim set of redundancies leading to hundreds of years of experience being lost to the business. As journalists take a stand for decent fair pay, the business has a real opportunity to listen and do something meaningful to address their immediate cost of living and longer term sustainability concerns.” 

A group chapel spokesperson said:

"There's a lot of talk about investment in these results. Investment in new brands, technology, platforms, equipment - but the journalists who actually create the 'monetisable expert content' that is recognised as being critical to the business barely get a mention. 

"The board handed out £1.3m to shareholders earlier this month and has committed to providing them with 'strong returns' in future, but where is the commitment to addressing the low pay and widespread pay disparities affecting National World staff? As usual, the company's workforce are at the bottom of the pile and are expected to be grateful for yet another real-terms pay cut. 

"Now is the time for journalists across the business to stand together and demand better from a company that can afford to address these pay issues but is choosing to do nothing." 

National World’s workforce has reduced by approximately 400 since 2021 despite its acquisition of 20 new brands and five businesses. Journalists remain under pressure, working at an estimated 26 per cent productivity increase in understaffed teams.  

The publisher must now return to talks with a fair increase that reflects positive comments by chairman David Montgomery and strengthened financial results. As benefits including the reduction in newsprint costs continue to be realised in the second half of the year, shareholders must not be the only ones benefiting from the “financial flexibility” referenced by the business.  

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