Newsquest journalists angry that their pay freezes while chief exec trousers £609,000

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Newspaper staff in South East Essex have today started a ‘work-to-rule’ in protest at the latest pay freeze at Newsquest newspaper titles.

Journalists voted by 95.2% to take this action, formally known as action short of a strike.

During the action, journalists will be working to their contracts, taking the screen breaks and meal breaks they are entitled to and refusing to take on additional work over and above their normal contracted duties.

The work-to-rule is for two weeks and will be followed by three days of strike action.

The dispute has arisen because Newsquest are attempting to impose another real-term pay cut on staff.

NUJ members were due a pay review in January 2012 but the company has shifted the date until June without prior consultation and will not give a guarantee of a raise at that time.

If no pay awards are made this year it will be the third year in four in which thousands of staff have been forced to take a pay freeze at Newsquest.

At the same time, Newsquest’s top executives continue to receive generous payouts – the latest company accounts available (2009) show chief executive Paul Davidson’s pay rose to £609,000.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Our members have had enough – they simply can’t afford another cut in their pay packets. Newsquest has started yet another new year with an attack on journalists’ wages whilst bosses at Newsquest and Gannett continue to reward themselves with the largesse they have clearly become very accustomed to.

“Time and again, the company refuses to acknowledge the hard work and loyalty of its journalists, who keep these titles going with their good will and professionalism. The withdrawal of that good will under this work to rule will highlight just how much Newsquest executives continue to take for granted.”

Sally King, Mother of the Newsquest South Essex chapel, said: “None of us want to be taking industrial action, but we feel forced to take a stand. It has got so bad, that some senior journalists have had to resort to taking second jobs just to meet bills. Clearly this is unsustainable.

“We have asked management to meet us to see if we can find common ground to end this dispute, but as yet, no dates for talks have been offered.”


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