Echo journalists to strike next week

NUJ members at the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton are to walk out on strike next Wednesday and Thursday.

The union said a majority of members voted to strike over pay after the chapel gave Newsquest a final opportunity to draw up proposals to settle the dispute over salaries and banding levels. Spokeswoman for the chapel Sally Churchward said: "The NUJ chapel at the Southern Daily Echo regrets the fact that management have forced its members into a situation where they unanimously voted in favour of strike action.

"This decision was only taken after it became clear that there was no possibility of breaking the deadlock in pay negotiations between the union and management. "That this was no snap decision is indicated by the fact that while 14 members voted in favour of strike action in the initial ballot, all 32 people who voted when the final decision was made were in favour of striking. Editor-in-chief Ian Murray disputed this saying: "Out of an editorial workforce of 70, 37 belong to the NUJ only 23 voted in the secret ballot to decide on whether to take industrial action.

"Only 14 people voted for strike action, but under the terms of the ballot this "majority" gave the NUJ a mandate to call out members. "That means that 80 per cent of editorial staff did not vote to strike in the secret ballot."

Management said it would not move on its 2.5 per cent pay increase, according to the union.

Despite the union's claims there have been redundancies at the Echo in recent months Murray "categorically" denies this claiming "far from there being redundancies we have in fact been taking staff on".

The chapel believed the introduction of new technology to the company's website and an increase in new titles which has put extra pressure on its journalists.

Editor-in-chief Ian Murray said: "The offer on the table is an overall increase of 2.5 per cent. This offer will safeguard and extend bandings for journalists in line with NUJ demands."

The increase proposed by management would see newly qualified senior journalists' wages rise to just under £20,600. Murray said the majority of staff were on levels above that.


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