Journalists at the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life newspapers in Ireland are preparing to vote on industrial action after receiving a “derisory” one per cent pay rise in ten years, the National Union of Journalists has said.
The two Independent News and Media titles, both based in Belfast, have seen two years of pay talks between the union and management.
The NUJ also tried to secure a new collective agreement, saying its existing agreement has not been renewed since 2003.
It said on Monday it will ballot its members over industrial action, prompted by the latest pay offer from INM.
Ian McGuinness, NUJ Irish organiser, said: “The message to the company is simple – Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life journalists deserve a pay rise and they should be paid extra when they take on a more senior role.
“The company is profitable and can afford it. It is not too late for INM to recognise the contribution of their workers to the success of the titles and reward them fairly for their work.
“The NUJ remains willing to engage in further talks at any stage to resolve this escalating dispute.”
The union said its members at the newspapers had faced “almost two years of delays and procrastination” from INM, adding that it tried to resolve the dispute by referring the case to the Labour Relations Agency in Belfast.
INM subsequently offered a “meagre” one per cent pay increase, proposed to get rid of acting up allowances, and demanded all minimum pay levels be removed from the existing collective agreement, the NUJ said.
The union had lodged a claim for a five per cent pay rise, backdated to June this year, which covered both staff and freelance journalists.
NUJ members held a chapel meeting on Friday, with McGuinness saying they were “frustrated and angry by the lack of progress”.
“They see no alternative but to ask the union to start a ballot for industrial action, including strike action, to get their message across,” he added.
A spokesperson for Independent News and Media declined to comment.