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Journalists at weeklies vote to strike in pay dispute

nujlogoStaff at a group of weekly newspapers are set to strike in a dispute over pay and trade union recognition.

Members of the National Union of Journalists at Alpha Newspapers, in Northern Ireland, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the action after the union demanded staff at the group were given a 14.5pc pay increase.

Titles affected include the Coleraine Chronicle and Tyrone Constitution, the Antrim and Ballymena Guardian, the Newry Democrat, the Ulster Gazette and the County Down Outlook.

The NUJ claims during recent talks group management refused to sign a voluntary trade recognition agreement and declined to put a formal offer to the union to address the claim for a collectively agreed pay scale.

Nicola Coleman, NUJ Irish organiser said: “Alpha is renowned for being one of the lowest paying media companies in Northern Ireland and is widely regarded as breaking up the NUJ’s sector based collective agreement for journalists in regional newspapers.

“The results of this are clear; more than 30 per cent of journalists employed by the company earning just a Living Wage, in many cases despite years of service.

“Our members see the link between trade union recognition/bargaining rights and decent pay.

“They recognise that their current situation is a direct result of their employer smashing the previous collective agreement and they are determined to fight for a union recognition agreement and a collectively agreed incremental salary scale that is fair.”

The NUJ says its membership at Alpha Newspapers in recent months has risen from an initial density of 29pc to more than 85pc.

Members at the Chronicle and Constitution voted 87.5pc in favour of strike action while those at other titles voted 100pc in favour.

The announcement comes less than a fortnight after NUJ members at Johnston Press titles in Northern Ireland voted to strike over proposed job cuts.

A spokeswoman for Alpha said: “The board of Alpha Newspapers are very disappointed with the NUJ course of action and press release and would like to clarify that only one third of the editorial team employed by the group have voted for strike action.

“As an independently owned group the 14.5pc increase demanded is totally unrealistic in the current environment or indeed for any business.

“The group is committed to improving the overall remuneration of all staff but it will be based on affordability to ensure the long term future of the business.

“The Alpha Group has focused on and invested in publishing strong local newspapers with editorial teams based locally and is well placed to continue to do so against the backdrop of significant job losses elsewhere.”


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  • March 31, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Journalists on the Living Wage? Disgraceful. Best of luck to one and all.

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  • April 1, 2016 at 9:56 am

    I hope the fact that this is not about the one of the Big Four companies that people are ignoring what seems to be a significant issue at stake here. Rates of pay more suited to unskilled restaurant staff, for example, should have no place in what is now a profession requiring post-graduate qualifications for entry. Again, best of luck with the action.

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