Journalist embark on two-week work-to-rule followed by three-day strike in Essex

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Strike-breaking journalists in Essex have been told they will be paid overtime for working long shifts as their colleagues take industrial action.

NUJ members at Newsquest South East Essex yesterday announced plans for a two-week work-to-rule followed by a three-day strike, and are angry that management has told employees not taking action at the Echo and its sister papers, the Colchester Gazette, Thurrock Gazette and Chelmsford and Brentwood Weekly News, that they will be awarded overtime payments for working 10-hour shifts during the strike action.

Mother of chapel Sally King told UnionNews: “I’m very disappointed management will offer cash to strike-breakers, but not offer a reasonable raise to its hard-working and loyal staff. Of course, most people understand they will be receiving the wages of union members who are on strike and at least one person has told me they will not accept the extra work and money as they feel it undermines what we are trying to achieve.”

Staff were due a pay rise in January this year but were told this would not be given and would be reviewed again in June, but the company will not guarantee that any pay rises will be given then. 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: “Newsquest endlessly attacks journalists jobs, pay, terms and conditions. Our members are facing a real-term pay cut and declining living standards. It is the price paid by media workers who produce Newsquest and Gannett profits. The company time and again fails to recognise hard-working staff are the business’ best assets.”

Sally King said: “No one wants to take this action. It is a reflection of the deep disappointment and genuine concern about their ability to pay bills that members feel, that they voted this way. By freezing pay – and even when a rise is offered keeping it well below inflation – it seems members of staff are being penalised for their loyalty.”


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