Springer Nature staff to take unprecedented strike action

by | Jun 17, 2024

Synonymous journal at the major academic publisher to be affected by industrial action for the first time in its 155-year history.
A pile of magazines on a black background.

On June 20, UK-based staff at Springer Nature are set to walk out after an overwhelming vote to take strike action over pay and conditions. Staff organized in the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which include nearly 400 editors, art editors, production staff, and journalists, will down tools in what has been described as “unprecedented” action by staff at the renowned academic publisher.

The NUJ first announced it was balloting its members for industrial action last month, after talks between the union and Springer Nature broke down in April. Springer Nature had offered its staff an “above-inflation” pay increase of 5.8%, which the NUJ rejected, causing the call to strike. Turnout for the vote was 90%, of which 93% voted in favor of strike action.

In a press release by the NUJ, staff expressed their grievances not just over pay, but working conditions as well. One editor speaking anonymously to the NUJ described a job “which takes more than eight hours a day, for which I travel, often staying up until midnight at conference poster sessions, recruiting papers, talking to people. [The 5.8% pay offer] is not enough to work on a severely, chronically understaffed team, sometimes handling difficult issues around scientific misconduct, corrections and retractions.”

According to the NUJ, June 20 will be the first day of a number of strike days expected to last throughout the rest of the month and July. Other action on non-strike days will include “working to rule”.

The industrial action is expected to affect dozens of journals in Springer Nature’s portfolio, including society journals like that of the European Molecular Biology Organization. The flagship journal Nature will also be affected, and could even end up missing a weekly issue for the first time since it was founded in 1869.

The impact that this will have on scientists and their research is unclear. Manuscripts currently under review or in production will almost certainly face delays, whilst researchers with a freshly written paper keen to have their work published may look to other journals for the duration of the strike.

There has not been an official statement on the matter by Springer Nature, but speaking before the result of the strike ballot, a spokesperson for the company said:

“We have a good relationship with the NUJ which has lasted for many years and fully respect and engage with them in accordance with the terms of our recognition agreement. We are confident that the above inflation salary increase on offer is a fair one. Additionally, we have introduced a range of measures to assist with increased commuting and living costs for all UK employees. We hope the situation with the NUJ will be resolved soon.”

Feature image by Freepik

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