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Strike action set to hit after union vote

The Wakefield Express and its sister papers are set to suffer three days of industrial action over pay with National Union of Journalists members voting to strike on Wednesday and Thursday March 27 and 28, and on Tuesday April 2.

Eighty-five per cent of the 37 union members among 50 editorial staff at Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group agreed to strike with one person voting against the walk-outs.

The papers include the Wakefield Express, Pontefract and Castleford Express, Morley Advertiser, Selby Times, Leeds Express, Ossett and Harbury Observer, Selby Chronicle, Gopole Courier, and the Extra series of free newspapers.

The NUJ was due to hold further talks with management of the Express and its associated newspapers today and management said they preferred not to comment before then.

Regional organiser Miles Barter said: “The management has agreed to a £1,200 pay rise for trainees and a decent rise next year, but seniors have only been offered a 2.5 per cent rise – the original pay claim by the chapel was 4.5 per cent. We’re hoping to improve the lot for seniors.”

Union members are due to picket the company’s offices in Wakefield, Morley, South Elmsall, Selby and Castleford.

Another ballot, at Yorkshire Post Newspapers, could bring industrial action to the RIM-owned Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post and Leeds Weekly News as NUJ members call for a new pay grading structure.

Sixty per cent of union members voted in favour of strike action and 68 per cent voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike. There are 135 union members among the 200 editorial staff.

A chapel meeting was due to be held last night to decide on the action to be taken at the papers, which are shortly to fall under Johnston Press as part of a £560m deal. According to the union, Johnston has already written to officers to say they plan to hold discussions on the matter.

The RIM-owned Lancashire Evening Post has also had a ballot on industrial action over pay, with 95 per cent of the 36 NUJ members voting in favour of some form of action. There are around 60 editorial staff at the newspaper.

A meeting was taking place today to decide what action should be taken.

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