JOURNALISTS AT the Independent and Independent on Sunday start voting this week in a ballot which could see the first strike action on a national newspaper for well over a decade. The journalists' NUJ union has only recently won back union recognition on the papers. It is encouraging members to vote for both a strike and action short of a strike.
The workers are planning an imaginative campaign over the ballot. 'We are issuing all sorts of bulletins, and we are planning balloons with 'I'm voting yes, yes' and stickers saying the same,' explained one worker. The management at the papers wants to impose a pay freeze. But this clearly doesn't apply to the top bosses.
Chief executive Brendan Hopkins got a 4 percent rise last year, taking his basic to £428,000, with huge share options and 'fees' on top. Gavin O'Reilly, son of the newspaper's billionaire owner Tony O'Reilly, grabbed 5 percent extra, taking him to £333,000 plus share options and fees. The company's profits increased last financial year, and the dividend it pays to shareholders is up 3.3 percent. Journalists at the Belfast Telegraph, owned by the same company, are also facing a pay freeze. They are due to start a strike ballot next week.