23 February 2005
Indy to vote on strike
Journalists at the Independent and Independent on Sunday voted at a recent mandatory chapel meeting to ballot for industrial action, with 96 per cent in favour.
The decision was taken because management have offered staff and freelance casuals, who constitute the bargaining unit, a below-inflation pay rise of 3 per cent. Management says this is all it can afford. Yet we know that board members - including the head man over UK and Ireland, Ivan Fallon - received large bonuses. Fallon's most recent bonus amounted to nearly half a million euros (and that's on top of salary, dividends, share options and so on).
We hope to start the ballot next week. So please watch this space to find out whether we'll be taking any action and if so what form it will take. Your support will obviously be crucial to any action we decide to take. So please start spreading the word that we are likely to be in dispute and not to support the papers with freelance contributions in the event of industrial action.
As many of you will know we do not have bargaining rights for freelance contributors. We have been lobbying for this since recognition in 2002. In fact, management had just agreed to meet National Freelance Organiser John Toner to discuss freelance issues (although they were adamant this was not a precursor to recognition). Since our strike threat they have, of course, formally withdrawn this offer. But we will of course be demanding it goes back on the table. I'll keep you all updated on that too.
Meanwhile, copyright conditions at the Indy and Sindy are appalling. When you write a piece for these papers they demand the right to use it ad infinitum - they will pay you a syndication fee only if it is bought in a spot sale (and these are very few and far between). So, when it appears in their other press outlets, in Ireland and around the world, or on an "Independent feed" to a regular client like the South China Morning Post, you won't get another bean! You have the right to sell on the story after it has been published in the Indy and Sindy - but as one freelance said, who wants old copy that has been whizzing its way around the INM empire? For the full copyright terms on "offer" go to www.independent.co.uk/legal.