Springer Nature staff hold unprecedented vote on industrial action

  • 14 May 2024

Writers on respected journals ballot for first time

In an unprecedented move, UK staff working on the renowned Nature portfolio of science journals are balloting for industrial action in a dispute over pay. 

The portfolio, which includes the world’s leading science magazine Nature, is owned by international publisher Springer Nature.

Talks between the union and publisher broke down in April following negotiations via ACAS.  The UK staff - which includes nearly 400 academic editors, journalists, art editors and production staff - have rejected an offer of 5.8% from the company.

In its most recent annual report (for 2022), Springer Nature posted an operating profit of €487 million (around £410 million) on revenues of more than €1.8 billion (around £1.6 billion). 

The ballot opens today and the union is encouraging journalists to vote yes in response to questions on taking strike action and action short of a strike, demonstrating strong opposition to the company’s final and "best” offer of 5.8%.

“Our members are passionately devoted to serving science and the scientific communities they represent,” said an NUJ spokesperson.

“They work long hours and make a key contribution not just to the company but also to the global scientific endeavour. Senior management have consistently acknowledged that business success wouldn’t be possible without their hard work and dedication. But the past few years have seen their wages fall far behind the rising cost of living, making the company’s present offer simply unaffordable.”

“We have repeatedly told the management that our members are overworked, and with the rising cost of living are now unable to pay their bills. Sadly, the company has chosen not to listen, instead insisting that it is being generous in offering what amounts to a significant pay cut in real terms.”

The union is calling on Springer Nature to provide a pay rise that values its journalists, reaches a fair outcome and resolves the dispute.

The publishing giant was created in 2015 following the merger of Macmillan Science and Education and Springer.

This is the first time since then that a ballot for industrial action has been held and the first for Nature magazine since the early 1990s, when it was owned by Macmillan. 

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