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US staff plan first Reuters strike in decades

Reuters journalists in the United States planned a 24-hour strike on Thursday, the first walkout in decades.

Unionised staff plan to start the strike at 6 am New York time. They say the company did not fairly negotiate pay increases, according to the Communications Workers of America’s NewsGuild which represents US-based Reuters reporters, photographers and video journalists.


The union said about 90 per cent of the 300 or so Reuters employees it represents agreed to take part in the stoppage.


The most recent NewsGuild contract expired in late 2020. Reuters proposed a three-year contract with guaranteed annual pay increases of one per cent, according to the union, which said that would erode employee spending power against a backdrop of nine per cent inflation.


“In 2020 we were all asked to step up,” said energy reporter Tim McLaughlin, a member of the union’s bargaining committee. “Everyone just rose to the occasion, and we thought - wrongly as it turns out - that we would get something in return.”


“Most media companies are having a hard time, but that ain’t us,” McLaughlin said, adding that the attitude of Reuters employees ranges “from peeved to apoplectic”.


The Guild said it expected the strike to disrupt Reuters newsgathering by forcing management to rely on reporters abroad or editors to cover the day’s events.


Reuters said in a statement it was “fully committed to constructive negotiations with the NewsGuild” to reach a contract. “These conversations are ongoing and we will continue to work with the Guild committee to settle on mutually agreeable terms,” the company said.


“We have extensive contingency plans in place that will minimise this brief disruption and are confident that we will deliver the highest quality of service to all our customers.”


The walkout was timed to coincide with Thomson Reuters second-quarter earnings announcement in the hope of increasing attention from management and customers. ■