Unionised Stuff journalists protest nationwide against latest pay offer

  • 30/11/2022

Unionised workers from media company Puna/Stuff stopped work early on Wednesday across the motu to protest against their latest pay offer.

It follows a vote on Monday, where union members rejected Puna/Stuff's offer for a 7 percent pay rise on average - except for those on salaries over $100,000.

Nearly 200 Puna/Stuff journalists, who wanted a minimum 7.25 percent rise, are part of the E Tū union.

Eda Tang, Pou Tiaki reporter at Puna/Stuff, said the reason for the strike action is simple.

"We're gathering here today for fairer pay."

Tang told Newshub she's had to skip buying the basics like milk because her pay can't keep up with everyday living.

"Unfortunately the cost of living isn't just a news story - it affects the people in the newsrooms as well," she said.

But deciding to protest wasn't easy either.

"It actually breaks my heart to be striking, because I love my work and I really believe in it. I love the impact that it has on our communities. But the reality is that it's having a compromising effect on my daily life," Tang said.

Puna/Stuff agreed to a couple of the workers' demands - a minimum salary of $55,000 and annual progressive (stepped) pay increases.

Unionised Stuff journalists protest nationwide against latest pay offer
Photo credit: Newshub.

However, Michael Gilchrist, organiser at E Tū, said it will only be an improvement if cost of living increases are also addressed.

"The benefit of what we've negotiated so far depends on ensuring that members' pay is not continually eroded by inflation," Gilchrist said.

Tom Hunt, a Puna/Stuff journalist based in Te Whanganui a Tara/Wellington, said the company's behaviour has been an "insult to the journalists" who work there, while also claiming that staff are now leaving in large numbers.

"Nobody got into journalism to get rich," said Hunt.

Joanna Norris, chief content officer at Puna/Stuff, said the strikes affect only a minority of editorial staff, therefore won't impact on its journalism.

"The [Puna]/Stuff team is working towards a fair and equitable outcome for our journalists and looks forward to getting back to the negotiating table once the industrial action is completed."

Norris rejects claims of a mass staff exodus, while also saying it's in Puna/Stuff's best interest to provide fair wages and conditions.

"We have negotiated in good faith but suggesting that our staff are leaving in 'huge numbers' is incorrect," she told Newshub.

Norris said Puna/Stuff remains willing to negotiate with its unionised staff.

"We believe the offer is fair and in line with the wider industry."

Union members voted to strike again another day this week, and also for a 24-hour stoppage next week.