As previously reported on HTFP, members of the National Union of Journalists working for Johnston Press in Northern Ireland voted in favour of strike action last month after JP announced around 13 redundancies in the region.
However, it is understood the threat has now been lifted after NUJ members at Belfast daily the News Letter, the bi-weekly Derry Journal and a number of weekly newspapers reached an agreement with JP.
A copy of the agreement, seen by HTFP, reveals those taking voluntary redundancy at the titles will be offered two weeks’ wages per year of service, capped at 20 years or 30k, and full pay in lieu of notice, with a minimum one month notice.
The union had initially asked for three weeks’ wages per year of service.
In recognition of Northern Ireland’s current high level of unemployment and the lack of opportunity for journalists to find active employment within the same sector, an assistance package of £5,000 will also be offered upon agreement of voluntary redundancy.
There will also be no redundancies made until an agreement on proposed changes to staffing stemming from the introduction of JP’s ‘Newsroom of the Future’ initiative to the region has been negotiated and agreed between the union and the company.
Pending further talks, pay rises of 2pc have also been agreed for editorial staff at the Derry Journal, backdated to July 2015, the News Letter, backdated to January 2016, and the Mortons group of weekly newspapers to April 2016.
When asked for a comment by HTFP, Nicola Coleman, NUJ Irish Organiser, said: “All of the NUJ’s demands were satisfied. This was only possible because almost 100pc of editorial staff across the group in Northern Ireland are NUJ members who were united and prepared to take action.
“What they have achieved shows the value of trade union membership and organisation. The agreed redundancy package acknowledges the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland and will ensure any redundancies are achieved by voluntary means.
“The conditions of our agreement ensure there will be no job cuts until the NUJ has an agreement on staffing levels with the employer. We welcome the 2pc pay increases which have been accepted as an interim measure pending forthcoming talks.
“Members have voted to suspend the threat of strike action and the NUJ looks forward to a more positive relationship with Johnston Press Northern Ireland management in shaping the future of the titles in Northern Ireland.”
Johnston Press has declined to comment.