European Federation of Journalists

UK: EFJ backs strike, after Reach talks end without settlement

Credit: NUJ

1000 journalists are set to strike after two days of negotiations between IFJ-EFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Reach, the UK’s largest national and regional news publisher, broke down without a deal. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) have backed the workers’ demands for a fair pay rise and fully support the strike, which starts on Wednesday 31 August.

NUJ members across Reach titles will strike on Wednesday 31st August. Union representatives unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the chief executive, and also agreed to add an additional day of strike action to a planned two-day strike that will now take place from Tuesday 13th to Thursday 15th September inclusive, the same week that the Trades Union Congress (TUC) takes place in Brighton. They also committed to put in place an ongoing work to rule from Friday 16th September.

Reach had offered a 3 per cent/£750 increase to staff which was overwhelmingly rejected by journalists. 79% of members voted for strike action in ballot results released earlier this month. As the union was poised to go on strike last Friday (August 26), the employer, at the eleventh hour, proposed talks with the NUJ, brokered by ACAS, the arbitration service.

Reach PLC is the largest national and regional news publisher in the UK. Its titles include national publications such as the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Sunday People, Daily Record, Daily Star, and market leading regional titles, including the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Mail and Bristol Post.

Michelle Stanistreet NUJ General Secretary said: “Despite a settlement being within touching distance following exhaustive talks at ACAS, with significant collective effort on the part of negotiators for both sides, the company’s no-show chief executive kiboshed any chance of a sensible deal that addresses our members’ key priority – their consolidated pay.”

“NUJ members are clear where responsibility lies here, and that is shown in a unanimous vote of no confidence in Reach chief executive Jim Mullen. This is a man who has enjoyed a £4million package from Reach this year, yet is intent on denying journalists a fair pay deal, even though the business has cash in the bank that could easily ensure its staff don’t continue to suffer the damaging impact of this cost of living crisis and a severe real-terms cut in salary. Failure to resolve this dispute represents a monumental failure of leadership on his part”, Stanistreet added.

In a joint statement, the IFJ and the EFJ said: At a time when prices are rising so fast and journalists are struggling, for the company to reward its shareholders instead of its staff is crass. We fully support the demands of our colleagues and their actions in order to secure a fair pay deal, so that they can carry on with their excellent work of keeping the public informed”.