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Reach journalist strikes begin with pickets in key cities nationwide

Picketing Reach journalists at Canary Wharf

Journalists at Reach plc’s newspapers and websites are striking today (Wednesday 31 August) after talks to resolve the dispute over pay broke down over the bank holiday.

More than 1,150 journalists will take part in major walkouts across the company’s titles including The Mirror, Express, the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo and the publisher’s various regional Live websites.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “We accepted the company’s invitation to talks brokered by ACAS, but ultimately, the lack of willingness on the part of Reach chief executive Jim Mullen to budge an inch meant the negotiations were doomed to failure. This is a business with cash in the bank, a business that is happy to spend £7million on lavish pay packages for its top two executives, a business that is about to hand over a further £4million to shareholders.

“Yet is also a business that believes its hard-working journalists deserve a whopping real-terms pay cut, and refuses to come to an agreement on pay that will ensure our members can keep themselves and their families afloat this winter. It’s shameful that a media company that positions itself as a voice for communities around the UK and Ireland, with many titles that claim to be an ally of working people, would choose to treat its own staff so shabbily.”

A striking member said: “For years now, journalists have been vastly underpaid, especially when considering the qualifications and skills we need, the pressure and abuse we face and the vital service we provide to inform, entertain and hold the powerful to account. To know our bosses are lining their pockets with millions and paying shareholders a rise bigger than the insulting 3 per cent they’ve offered us at a time when inflation is projected to soar to 18 per cent is completely demoralising.

“Without the work of journalists at Reach in recent months, they’d have been no Partygate scandal broken, no agenda-leading journalism on climate change and no light in the darkness provided by our local newspapers in cities such as Liverpool this week hit by tragedy. It is time to reflect our service in our pay packets, not just in weekly emails with empty words.”

Following two days of negotiations over the bank holiday weekend, brokered by ACAS the arbitration service, talks between the NUJ and Reach broke down with no deal. NUJ reps unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the chief executive, Jim Mullen, added an extra strike day to their planned industrial action and extended the work to rule, as the talks failed to resolve the dispute.

A further three days of strike action will take place during the week of TUC Congress in September.

NUJ picket lines will be in place nationwide and in Dublin, including at Reach’s key Northern locations in Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester/Oldham and Hull.

The publisher responded in a statement this morning: “We greatly value our journalists and are disappointed that, despite our best efforts during a long negotiation process and successful agreements with Unite and the BAJ, we have been unable to reach an agreement with the NUJ. Whilst this is not the outcome we would have wished for, 2022 continues to be extremely challenging for the whole publishing sector with reduced demand for advertising and energy inflation driving the cost of newsprint to record levels. 

“We therefore remain focused on protecting the interests of all our colleagues and stakeholders, ensuring the group has a sustainable future in the face of an uncertain economic climate. We continue to be open to further talks at any time to resolve this dispute and move forward.”

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