National World figures reveal "financial flexibility" and 13 per cent digital growth

  • 21 Mar 2024

NUJ calls on the publisher to fairly remunerate its journalists through a decent pay rise, following publication of its 2023 figures.

The publisher of titles across the UK and Ireland including The Scotsman, Sunderland Echo, Belfast News Letter and The Yorkshire Post had a closing cash balance of £10.7m and saw 13 per cent increase in digital revenue as outlined by chairman David Montgomery in its year-end results.

National World journalists are seeking a pay increase that addresses enshrined pay anomalies across grades and helps ease financial pressures associated with cost of living increases. The company's five per cent growth described as “robust” by Montgomery is thanks to its journalists, including those whose posts were culled in recent redundancy rounds.

The publisher's below-inflation offer imposed last year led to strike action and came amid its decision to spend millions on acquisitions, as some journalists struggled on low pay rates. This included its bid to purchase The Telegraph, which although subsequently aborted, cost £300,000 - a sum many journalists will be dismayed to see.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:

“Today’s figures reveal National World expects to pay shareholders a significant £1.4m in dividends following a successful year. Our members are seeking a seven per cent increase and with a cash balance of almost £11m, National World can afford to pay journalists a fair wage that recognises their value and role in the success of the company. Brutal job cuts have meant journalists across newsrooms are in fact doing more with less, and it’s time for meaningful engagement that seeks to address journalists’ concerns with pay and the long-term strategy of the business.

“Whilst the union welcomes approaches acknowledging the skill and dedication of journalists, a ‘rewards system recognising talent’ referenced in the financial report, must not be performance based and driven by individualised unattainable targets that place immense pressure on under-resourced teams. NUJ members have been absolutely clear that they will not accept performance based pay which cuts across collective bargaining.”

Montgomery’s description of the BBC as “predatory” has been criticised by the union as a falsity and an unhelpful distraction from the issues facing journalists at the company. National World employs less than 1200 staff compared to the 1500 when acquired in 2021. The increased productivity heralded in the report masks multiple reports of over stretched, over burdened journalists. National World must not disguise understaffing behind claims of improved productivity that in reality worsens the mental health of its workforce. 

The NUJ is seeking urgent engagement with the company over their delay in responding to chapel pay claims for 2024. 

The strategy section of the report also contains a number of other issues of significant potential concern for members, including the future of news journalism, the Your World platform and the use of AI.

Return to listing