Staff at Reach to ballot for industrial action over pay
NUJ members at Reach titles will be balloted in coming weeks, following rejection of a 3% pay offer.
The dispute over pay follows months of talks with Reach plc, to agree a fair and decent pay award for staff within the company. Despite the union’s extensive negotiation efforts including senior talks with Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, the company has failed to recognise the significant contribution of journalists and increase their final offer of 3 per cent or £750 for employees.
The Reach NUJ Group chapel has overwhelmingly rejected the pay offer and has voted to ballot for strike action and/or action short of a strike. The union will now prepare to ballot members and on 24 June, informed Reach of its intention.
2021 full year results at the company indicated a £24m rise in cash balances with operating profits of over £146m. Its chief executive Jim Mullen's £4m pay package last year was worth 107 times the pay of median earning Reach employees, and in stark contrast to the final 3 per cent pay offer. The NUJ is urging the company to return to negotiations with a pay award members can accept.
Chris Morley, NUJ Reach national co-ordinator, said:
“Members are incredibly disappointed that we have now reached this point in the road where the company is still failing to acknowledge the struggle they are up against in a any meaningful way.
“They have performed heroics during the pandemic as key workers. Yet most have had the burden of soaring energy costs transferred on to their shoulders via the company’s policy of home working from which Reach will make millions of pounds’ worth of annual savings from closing most of the group’s offices - with virtually no financial help to do so.
“Our members have also been ultra-flexible in adapting at very short notice to the company’s scramble to collect the millions of extra digital page views crucial to the company’s revenue and yet are told to swallow an effective pay cut that is slicing deeper into their living standards all the time.
“The board – made up of multi-millionaires - appears totally remote from what is happening on the ground. Without a better deal on the table, their journalists are already voting with their feet and finding other jobs that can pay all the rising bills.
“What is the point of a media company that gives as the purpose of its titles ‘to each serve their communities with integrity and passion’ if it fails to look after its own staff?
“As a union, we are getting the increasingly clear message from members that they are not willing this time to turn the other cheek on another poor pay offer and are saying: enough is enough. They acknowledge the economy is tough, but reluctantly have decided to move to a ballot for industrial action.
“Chapels have not taken this move lightly and management should recognise the importance of coming back with a fair offer”