Strike threat at Guardian over equal pay for web journalists

Huge pay disparities between Guardian journalists working for the newspaper and on the website have prompted NUJ members at the paper to this week start balloting for industrial action.

Pay talks broke down last week after a management pay offer of three per cent for all staff — plus £500,000 to go towards increasing pay for web journalists — was rejected. This included an extra £1,500 for all web journalists earning less than £35,000.

The NUJ has asked for a four per cent pay rise overall and a £28,000 minimum for all journalists.

Management said that its offer equated to an average rise of five per cent overall. According to more than one Guardian insider, news that editor Alan Rusbridger (pictured) had received an annual pay rise of 14.7 per cent to £312,000, plus a bonus of £175,000, had increased calls for a better deal for staff.

Around 80 of The Guardian's 400 or so journalists work on the website, Guardian Unlimited. According to the NUJ, a typical internet sub or reporter might earn £10,000 less than their newspaper counterpart.

Guardian NUJ father of chapel Matt Seaton said: "The NUJ at The Guardian has made winning parity for internet journalists a high priority in every pay round in recent years.

"Members feel they have worked incredibly hard over the past couple of years — on the Berliner and the recent web-first operations — and feel that has not been recognised or rewarded."

Guardian managing editor Chris Elliott said: "We are obviously disappointed with the response. The chapel made a very strong case and we've pledged that we will do something about this… and have set aside a very substantial sum to do just that.

"Everyone is trying to work out how this integrated world works. We need to work out what journalists on the web do and what journalists on the newspaper do and how different they are."

Guardian management is currently working on a new "skills matrix" pay system to reward web journalists, and according to Elliott, a sample group of web subs would benefit to the tune of between £2,000 and £10,000.

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