Journalists at Newsquest titles in Essex are holding a ballot for industrial action over wages.
The National Union of Journalists chapels 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.
If no pay awards are made in 2012 it will be the third year in four that Newsquest journalists’ salaries have stood still.
Members say there may also be plans to introduce a single pay anniversary which would leave some journalists waiting until 2013 before being considered for a pay rise.
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.
Said Will: “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.
“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.”
Sally King, Mother of the Newsquest South Essex chapel added: “No-one takes voting for industrial action lightly, but members feel they have been ignored for too long.
“It is ridiculous that staff, who are graduates with post-graduate training and years of experience, are having to take second jobs just to meet bills. This year alone at this centre, we have had two members of staff leave the profession because they felt they just couldn’t afford to work here.”
Newsquest managing director Paul Davidson was not available for comment at the time of publication.