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Company drops threat to dock journalists' pay

Northern Echo journalists who staged a half-day walkout on Monday in protest at job cuts will be paid despite an earlier management threat to dock their salaries, it was confirmed today.

More than 50 NUJ members from the Darlington-based daily and its sister weeklies left their desks for a whole afternoon in protest at planned compulsory redundancies.

In a memo to staff the following day, Newsquest North-East managing director David Coates announced the company would be making a deduction from the salaries of all those who took part in the action.

But the company yesterday backed down on the threat in what editor Peter Barron called a “one-off goodwill gesture” designed to end the dispute, while the union called off plans to further action next week.

Mr Barron told HoldtheFrontPage: “As a one-off gesture of goodwill to resolve the dispute we’ve agreed that those members of the NUJ who took part in the action on Monday will not have pay deducted.”

However he added that the company had not changed its position on either of the union’s two key demands – the lifting of the current pay freeze and overturning the three planned compulsory redundancies.

The union has welcomed a management pledge to hold talks next month on a 2009 pay deal starting from April when the pay freeze is due to be reviewed.

However Mr Barron said this would have happened anyway as part of the normal process of consultation between managers and the union over pay.

The union said today it was determined to stand up to protect the future of the paper and will continue to fight for the preservation of editorial jobs.

NUJ Northern Regional Organiser Chris Morley said: “Our members at Newsquest North East have made an important stand not only over the destructive tide of redundancies sweeping through newsrooms across the country.

“The chapel feel they made their point over the sickening loss of three colleagues by compulsory redundancy and the company should take note that any future threat to jobs will be met by the same determination to preserve the integrity of their newspapers by fighting for the preservation of editorial jobs.

“I also hope that by agreeing to drop its threat to withhold the pay of NUJ members in this dispute that the company is therefore serious about meeting the chapel’s outstanding concerns.”


Interested party (08/01/2009 16:33:18)
Has anyone asked or commented on Mr Coates’ pay packet and any possible bonuses this year, just out of interest? Surely it’s in the public interest to find out?

Lister (08/01/2009 17:19:32)
When you walk on water and smile like the sun, when your benevolent hands pour oil on the waters of discontent and lesser mortals pay homage at your throne, you don’t need a pay packet and you don’t need bonuses. Just loyal staff.

Lister (08/01/2009 17:24:03)
. . . and morris men.