Indy strike action on back burner as pay talks resume

Grote: pay scale anomaly concerns

Staff at the newspapers held a disruptive mandatory meeting last week, after rejecting an earlier revised pay offer. But after further talks between the NUJ and management, there is belief that agreement can be reached.

In a joint statement issued by both sides, Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ national officer, said he was "confident that with a positive commitment from both sides we can resolve these outstanding matters".

Terry Grote, managing director of The Independent and the IoS, added: "We were as concerned as the staff about pay-scale anomalies and we have taken steps to address the situation. We look forward to all members of staff participating in the future success of our titles."

Meanwhile, in another part of the Independent News & Media empire, journalists at the Belfast Telegraph have voted overwhelmingly for strike action. Independent News & Media, which acquired the Belfast Telegraph last year, had told staff there would be a pay freeze because of the recession.

Maurice Neill, FoC at the Belfast Telegraph, said: "They offered us nothing. We are prepared to be creative to find a solution but there is no ongoing discussion."

Print workers and advertising staff on the newspaper are also being balloted over strike action.

Management at the title refused to comment on the dispute, saying that the union had not contacted them about the result.

Elsewhere, Trinity Mirror management and union officials from the Evening Chronicle, The Journal and the Sunday Sun in Newcastle, the Gateshead Post and the Herald & Post will be meeting at Acas on 15 July. The newspapers narrowly avoided strike action this week after an 11th-hour agreement to go to arbitration.

Meanwhile, the strike goes on at the Spalding Guardian and Lincolnshire Free Press. A 10-day strike – the third strike at the newspaper over pay and conditions – ended last Monday. And the NUJ announced another immediate 10-day strike.

The chapel has already held two five-day strikes. The newspapers continue to appear, produced by freelances and editorial executives from other parts of Welland Valley Newspapers. But talks have resumed between the union and management.

By Martin McNamara

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