NUJ says 3 year pay freeze for workers at Newsquest-owned papers equals a pay cut of more than 10%


Journalists at newspapers in Essex owned by the media giant Newsquest are being balloted for industrial action over pay.

The NUJ chapels (workplace branches) at Essex County Newspapers in Colchester and Newsquest South East Essex say they have been forced to take action over the company’s failure to negotiate adequately over pay.

The announcement of the ballots in Essex comes as journalists at Newsquest centres around the UK are hearing the news that their pay will be frozen, with reviews carried out later in the year. If no pay awards are made in 2012 it will be the third year in four that Newsquest journalists’ salaries have stood still.

While thousands of staff were forced into the second year of a pay freeze in 2009, company accounts show that the pay of the firm’s chief executive Paul Davidson rose by 21.5% to £609,000.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Staff have done all they can to support quality journalism and the Newsquest titles they work for. Now it’s time for the company to recognise it should pay staff a fair wage.”

Will Lodge, Father of the Newsquest North Essex chapel said members had decided to ballot because they were feeling the financial squeeze and were fed up with a lack of consultation from management.

He 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.

“When the amount staff are paying for food, fuel and other bills keeps rising higher than their salary managing their income becomes a real struggle.”

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