National Union of Journalists members working for newspapers owned by the Newsquest company have voted to strike in a dispute over pay.
Workers face a pay freeze, meaning that if no pay awards are made in 2012 it will be the third year out of the last four of standstill for Newsquest journalists. Management also want to impose a single pay “anniversary” (the point in the year at which pay is renegotiated) for all editorial staff, meaning some workers would not even be considered for a wage increase until June 2013.
Will Lodge, Father of the Newsquest North Essex chapel, said: “After two years of a pay freeze and a paltry two per cent rise last year, members are feeling the squeeze on their wallets.
“Wages are now 13 per cent below what they would be if they had matched inflation, equalling a £2,670 real-terms pay cut for someone on a £20,000 salary in 2008. This is without taking into account other factors such as increased tax contributions.
“Members are not opposed to standardising their pay dates, but are extremely concerned that people with a pay review in the second half of the year face waiting until June 2013 to be considered for a pay rise.
“The threat of a pay freeze now or a possible pay rise in June also feels like a carrot being dangled in front of our noses, with no guarantee it won’t be snatched away to help plug holes elsewhere in the budget.
“When we see reports of how much top Newsquest and Gannett executives are being paid, it makes us wonder how much of a hit profit margins are taking compared to the hit on our wages.
“To deny those on the ground making the company profitable a pay rise to line the pockets of a faceless executive is bordering on the criminal.”