Inde journalists to strike on Budget day

Journalists at The Independent newspaper group have agreed to strike on Budget day over the poor pay of its permanent and freelance editorial staff.

The strike action, which will run from the early hours of the morning until 23.59, is expected to disrupt production of the following day’s newspaper.

The 24-hour walk out will involve journalists from the national daily and its sister publication, The Independent on Sunday.

Announcing the plan, the National Union of Journalists said talks would be held later in the week to try to avert the need for strike action.

It added that negotiations between member journalists and the Independent’s senior managers broke down, after the newspaper failed to improve a 2.5 per cent pay rise.

The Union’s general secretary, Jeremy Dear, slammed senior managers at Independent Newspapers for recently bragging about the newspaper’s success, without being able to reward its staff with better pay.

“By voting for strike action journalists have made it clear they will not sit back and accept crumbs from the table whilst senior management are handsomely rewarded through generous bonuses or inflation-busting pay rises,” he said.

Those journalists most expected to strike lobbied the newspaper’s management for a pay rise of 5 per cent, which they claimed should be applied to all editorial staff, including freelance contributors.

John Toner, the NUJ’s freelance organsier, said his message to the managers is to continue negotiating with the Union about industry issues, such as pay, relevant to freelance journalists.

Speaking to Freelance UK, he said there are no plans “at this stage” to lobby other daily nationals into paying freelances the same rate as their permanent colleagues.

He refused to be drawn on why executives at Independent Newspapers fail to treat freelance staff as equals to the newspaper’s full-time journalists.

In a statement, the NUJ said it remained committed to finding a “negotiated solution,” but warned a strike is imminent, if the pay dispute is not resolved through further talks.

It added, “If the papers are a success it is in large part down to the hard work and professionalism of the editorial staff and it is time their contribution was recognised”.

Aside from low pay rates, freelance contributors to the Independent titles also contend with its broad licence for re-use of submissions, which is non-negotiable.



 

16th March 2006

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