Journalists at a regional daily will take further industrial action today in a dispute over a pay freeze.
Members of the National Union of Journalists at Newsquest York, which publishes The Press, will hold a mandatory chapel meeting at 12pm today in the next stage of its dispute with management over a pay freeze.
The chapel voted for action up to and including a strike last month after claiming that journalists in York had gone without a pay rise for three out of the last four years.
Journalists at Newsquest Bradford, which includes the Telegraph and Argus, have also voted for industrial action over pay and the chapel will hold a mandatory chapel meeting next Friday, starting at 1pm.
Members of the York chapel held their first compulsory meeting two weeks ago and will hold another today after talks with management failed to reach an agreement.
The chapel is also calling on all Newsquest chapels to “take a stand” about their pay.
Mark Stead and Tony Kelly, joint fathers of chapel at Newsquest York, said in a statement: “Despite the fact we have made several suggestions to local management about possible alternatives to a pay rise, we have yet to reach a resolution and, while we remain open to negotiation, feel we have no alternative but to continue our industrial action.
“Newsquest Yorkshire and North East Ltd, which runs The Press, remains a profitable company – £1.87 million pre-tax profit in 2011, according to its latest accounts, which also show the company reduced its staff pension bill by more than £600,000 during that year and the number of editorial staff fell while the number of finance and management staff rose.
“Meanwhile, our members are forced to scrape by without any financial recognition of their continuing outstanding work and the extra duties they absorb, particularly regarding increased use of social media, within their already-stretched working days. It is completely unacceptable.
“We are grateful for the dozens of messages of support we have received from across the NUJ and feel the time has come for all Newsquest chapels to take a stand on pay. This is not just about pay, it is about protecting quality journalism and quality journalists.”
The industrial action at Newsquest Bradford next Friday will see a compulsory meeting start at 1pm, which the chapel says will continue until its business is concluded.
Father of chapel Bob Smith said: “Chapel members at Bradford are sick of being strung along by management with tales of the company’s poverty while they are experiencing real poverty at home.
“A succession of pay freezes over the last four years has left our journalists almost 14pc worse off. Newsquest has also cut pension contributions by up to 9pc by closing its final-salary scheme, saving it £600,000.
“Members face real, everyday problems feeding their families and heating their homes. Starting pay for a graduate trainee on our weeklies is less than £14,700, and managers waited until August to break the news that, once again, our pay would be frozen for 2012.”
Newsquest York managing editor Steve Hughes declined to comment, while management at Newsquest Bradford have not responded to requests for a comment.