i newspaper reporters face 'real-terms pay cut'
Plans for a six-month pay freeze for reporters at Johnston Press were called a ‘slap in the face’ by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The media company, which owns 200 newspapers including the i newspaper, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, told editorial staff this week all annual pay reviews are shelved while it seeks to cut costs.
The NUJ says the move follows years of wage rises below inflation and amounts to a real-terms wages cut this year.
Johnston Press said it was trying to balance the need to cut costs and reward journalists, and that delaying the pay review until July was not taken lightly.
Andy Smith, NUJ assistant organiser, said:
“Johnston Press’s best asset is its staff. These are the people who have recently produced an excellent investigation into the state of the NHS and others have won awards for their journalism.
They do not need this slap in the face.
They are already struggling to get by on their present salaries and the prospect of no more money when the cost of living is rising and inflation looks set to increase will hit them hard.”
NUJ reps at Johnston Press are consulting members on next steps and plan to ask whether top executives at JP will be getting their annual bonus.
A Johnston Press group chapel spokesperson said:
“News of this six-month pay freeze has come as a huge blow to beleaguered editorial teams who put their hearts and souls into producing quality journalism for their readerships in the face of continued cuts, dwindling staff levels and increasing workloads.
Instead of being rewarded for their loyalty and hard work, they now face the prospect of an effective pay cut in the year ahead.
We hope the impact of this week’s announcement on ordinary working journalists will not be forgotten by shareholders when it comes to deciding whether top executives should get bonuses this year.“
Johnston Press’s revenue fell six per cent year-on-year in 2016, according to a trading update, but cost-cutting has kept its profit margin at 22 per cent.
A Johnston Press spokesperson, quoted in the Press Gazette, said:
“The economic climate continues to challenge us and we need to constantly review our costs to ensure we safeguard the security and future of our business.
We have balanced our need to meet our costs challenge against our desire to be able to give editorial staff some recognition through a pay review and have taken the decision to defer pay discussions until July.
It’s not a decision that’s been taken lightly as we try to continue to manage the costs against the revenue challenges we face.”
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.