Al Jazeera English journalists to strike over pay

Al Jazeera English journalists based in London have told management they will go on strike next month over pay. (Wikimedia Commons/Wittylama)
Updated 25 April 2018
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Al Jazeera English journalists to strike over pay

  • Al Jazeera English journalists based in London have told management they will go on strike next month over pay
  • Journalists at the London office based in the Shard building say they have not received a pay rise in years

LONDON: Al Jazeera English journalists based in London have told management they will go on strike next month over pay.
Staff at the Qatar-owned broadcaster voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action in March following a years-long dispute.
Journalists at the London office based in the Shard building say they have not received a pay rise in years despite increased living costs.
“The talks have been going on since 2015 and members have been losing patience. They voted almost unanimously to go for strike action,” Frances Rafferty, campaigns and communications officer at the National Union of Journalists, told Arab News.
“It’s a last resort, they’ve tried negotiating and they are just completely frustrated, nobody wants to go on strike but they are in a position where it is an option of last resort.”
Al Jazeera English is headquartered in Doha but a significant number of its journalists work out of its London office, which is responsible for European news gathering, current affairs programming and live evening news output.
The strike will take place on May 9 and will be followed by “action short of a strike” in which there will be a “withdrawl of good will,” with staff starting to take their statutory meal breaks in full and refusing to answer telephone calls, emails and messages out of normal hours.
This will begin on May 10, 2018 and continue “indefinitely,” the NUJ said — but it could be suspended “if management is prepared to come back and start meaningful talks.”
Al Jazeera members of the NUJ and the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU) lodged a claim in 2015 over redundancy policy, expenses and overtime. While progress was made in some areas, the management rejected requests to negotiate over pay.
An email sent to Al Jazeera staff on Dec. 29, 2017 signed by the broadcaster’s London HR team said: “Al Jazeera Media Network (which includes Al Jazeera International London) will not be offering standard pay increase or bonus to global staff in 2018 due to global budgetary constraints.”
The email said 17 staff members “whose salaries fell below the minimum market rates” had received pay rises.
Commenting at the time, the Al Jazeera NUJ branch said: “We went into pay talks three years ago expecting to negotiate over percentages. In that time Al Jazeera management has refused to improve on 0 percent — effectively handing all its staff an annual pay cut, once inflation is taken into account. The ballot result shows our members are not prepared to accept this.”
Al Jazeera did not respond to Arab News when approach for comment.


Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

Updated 5 min 21 sec ago
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Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

  • Google received three fines in the past two years
  • EU Commission says Google has been blocking competitors for the past ten years

BRUSSELS: Google was fined $1.7 billion on Wednesday for blocking rival online search advertisers, the third large European Union antitrust penalty for the Alphabet business in two only years.

The European Commission, which said the fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover in 2018, said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google’s AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

Last year, Vestager imposed a record $4.92 billion fine on Google for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. This followed a $2.74 billion fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Google is now trying to comply with the order to ensure a level playing field with proposals to boost price comparison rivals and prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps. Critics however are still not happy.