THE JOURNALISTS on Guardian Media Group newspapers in Manchester have won a victory over pay after a series of strikes. Management were forced to increase their pay offer the day before a nine-day stoppage by NUJ union members was due to start.
Trainee journalists will get a 24.5 percent rise of around £3,000 a year. These are a key group of low paid workers in the media industry whose starting rates can be as little as £10,486 a year. This concession had previously been put forward by management. But the strikers wanted to make sure fellow journalists got a decent pay rise. In the new offer second year journalists will get a 5 percent rise plus a one-off payment of £280.
Senior journalists will get a 2.5 percent rise plus a one-off payment of £350. The strikers' plan to escalate their action secured other concessions too. The deal is backdated to 1 January, and includes a 5 percent rise on meal allowances and an ongoing regrading process. The company has also agreed to parity on pay rates across all titles within the group.
The Guardian Media Group, which owns the Guardian and Observer newspapers, had derecognised the NUJ branch after it balloted for strikes. The union has now been fully recognised. The strikers are pleased their solid two-day strike last week has led to the bosses giving in.
They had held a lively picket line outside the Rochdale Observer on Tuesday. The young journalists, alongside their more experienced colleagues, leafleted their fellow workers and other people about the dispute. Strikers were disgusted to hear that journalists were being paid £100 per day extra to break the strike.
They held a protest outside the Manchester Evening News on Wednesday of last week and attracted lots of public support. The successful action is another example of a growing mood to fight over pay in the media.
It has already lead to pay victories on the Express and Star newspapers, the Wakefield Express and the Bradford Telegraph. Now journalists on the Spalding Guardian in Lincolnshire are balloting for action over pay. The NUJ branch recently won union recognition.