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Union rubbishes publisher’s questioning of strike’s legality

Laura DavisonUnion chiefs have rubbished suggestions by National World that a three-day strike by its staff may not have been legal.

The National Union of Journalists has issued a lengthy rebuttal after journalists at the company received an “internal communication” lambasting the action, which concluded on Monday.

The unattributed memo, which has been seen by HTFP, claimed National World is investigating the pre-strike ballot “due to concerns regarding their legal validity”, but has given no further information.

The memo also criticised what it called “untrue assertions” from “external officials” at the NUJ that young journalists at the company were “being neglected”.

The three days of stoppages took place as part of a pay dispute which followed NUJ members at National World repeatedly rejecting an offer of a 4.5pc pay increase.

The union is urging National World to offer an improved pay package, uplifts to minimum rates and efforts to improve pay disparities after talks between the two parties hosted by conciliation service ACAS collapsed earlier this summer.

NUJ national organiser Laura Davison, pictured, said in a statement: “The people at the very top of National World are so determined not to address the insidious pay issues in the company that they instructed their legal team to threaten action against the NUJ if the strike was not called off.

“The union responded robustly, the company did not take the issue to court – and our well-supported strike days went ahead.

“Unlike National World, the NUJ is not controlled by an executive chairman. The ‘external union officials’ that the company spends so much of its email complaining about do not direct our members.

“It is quite the opposite. They are here to support members whose bosses have proven themselves to be totally unwilling to act fairly.

“Our union is directed by the views and concerns of ordinary journalists who know full well what the working conditions in this business are really like.

“Those journalists tell their chapel reps what issues they want to see raised, those journalists were all invited to vote in the ballot over industrial action, those journalists joined our picket lines and rallies again on Monday and are now working to rule.”

She added: “Our offer for the company to return to talks at Acas remains open.”

A National World spokesperson said: “The company is taking action against the increasing number of untrue and misleading statements made by external union officials.”