AddThis SmartLayers

News staff down tools in first action for ten years

Union members in the North West Evening Mail newsroom downed tools for a day-long disruptive meeting after pay and pensions talks failed.

Resumed talks at ACAS failed to find a breakthrough after the company had imposed a three per cent pay rise and altered pension arrangements.

More than 30 newsroom staff who are members of the National Union of Journalists arrived for their normal shift start at 8am – but all got up and left to go to the chapel meeting away from their offices at 8.30am.

Their action left the newsroom almost deserted, with just a handful of staff at work, including the editor, Steve Brauner.

Members voted unanimously to stay in the meeting for the rest of the day and to hold more action at a later date.

The chapel’s stand follows similar action by members of their sister Cumbrian Newspapers Group chapel at the Carlisle News & Star two weeks ago in a long-running dispute over closure of the final salary pension scheme to all staff.

The chapels are concerned that they are being forced to take over the burden of risk over pensions from the company, by having to pay increased National Insurance contributions following the pensions changes.

Mother of chapel Helen Wall said: “Support by chapel members has been absolutely rock solid. They are more than ever determined to take further action until the company comes up with a proper offer.”

More than ten hours of talks involving ACAS over two days only yielded a pledge to hold a pay review and give a £300 payment to trainees.

The union says management refused to give clear guarantees about the scope of the review or when and whether it could lead to payouts.

All three chapels want an across-the-board payment as part of any settlement.

Carlisle members are holding a chapel meeting over the offer and decide on further industrial action if rejected. The discussions come against a background of wages where newly-qualified seniors start at £16,000 in Barrow, and trainees start on just £12,500.

The group’s third chapel at Whitehaven was due to meet last night to give its verdict and to decide whether to action their previous successful 100 per cent vote for strike action.

Yesterday saw the first industrial action at the North West Evening Mail for more than a decade.

The company was expected to comment later today.