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  1. The Wire
September 1, 2023

National World journalists vote to strike over pay

Three days of strike action have been announced, as well as a work to rule period.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Journalists at National World have voted to take strike action in their pay dispute with the regional publisher.

Some 248 journalists from titles such as The Scotsman, the Yorkshire Post and the Sheffield Star took part in the ballot, making a turnout of 76%.

Of those, 78% said they would be prepared to take part in strike action, while 85% said they would take part in industrial action short of a strike.

The National World NUJ Group Chapel subsequently voted on Friday to serve notice on the company for three days of strike action, on Monday 18 September, Friday 22 September and Monday 25 September. A work to rule, meaning journalists will only undertake their contracted duties and hours, will start from Tuesday 19 September.

The group chapel said in a statement: “This ballot result is an historic moment for our members at National World, many of whom have been with the company since the days of Johnston Press and later JPI Media.

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“It marks the first time that a company-wide ballot over pay has been undertaken within this business under any of those owners, with our members having reluctantly accepted real-terms pay cuts or pay freezes from their current employer and previous owners for too many years.”

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The NUJ has said that National World journalists have this year “faced recent painful redundancies while engaged in a dispute over pay”.

The company offered staff a 4.5% pay increase backdated to 1 April but the NUJ has said this was below-inflation and called for it to be increased.

The NUJ also called for the company to introduce minimum rates, saying some journalists remain on 2019 rates that mean some newly-qualified senior reporters are paid less than £23,000 per year.

The union previously explained it “has been involved in negotiations with the company since an initial claim was submitted in February. The claim sought a pay rise that would help members cope with rising costs, as well as measures to address low pay and pay inequalities within newsrooms.”

The negotiations included talks hosted by mediator Acas but no agreement came as a result.

A group chapel spokesperson said: “The decision to ballot our members is not one that we would ever take lightly but the journalists working for National World simply cannot afford to accept this offer.

“It would mean every member taking a real-terms pay cut as part of a deal that also worsens existing pay disparities within newsrooms and fails to tackle the appalling low pay in many areas.”

National World saw revenue decrease by 4% year-on-year to £41.6m in the first half of 2023 but the second quarter, when it was flat, was an improvement compared to an 8% decline in Q1. The company’s cash balance was “strong” on £22.1m.

As well as its legacy newspaper brands, National World publishes a number of “World”-branded city websites and a “National World” national news website.

Since August 2022 strikes have taken place at Reach, where journalists objected to a 3% pay offer, and BBC England, whose staff continue to protest cuts to local radio. Reach’s journalists narrowly accepted a new pay offer following the strike, but the BBC has not changed its plans despite three strikes taking place this year so far.

National World journalists in Scotland had voted to strike last summer over compulsory redundancies and the NUJ announced dates for the action, but it was ultimately called off.

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  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
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