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Citizen's journalists could strike over pay

Milton Keynes Citizen journalists have voted to take industrial action in support of a pay claim.

Members of the Milton Keynes Chapel of the National Union of Journalists, including many editorial and all the photographic staff at the paper, were balloted last month.

Negotiations between the union and management reached stalemate despite the intervention of conciliation service ACAS, with further talks held before Christmas.

The union says the Johnston Press-owned company has offered a three per cent increase for 2007.

This was rejected by the union which wants 3.5 per cent to reflect the increased number of titles being produced with what they say are reduced staff numbers. Twelve of the 17 editorial staff are members of the union as well as three photographers.

Union members are also angry that wages have failed to keep up with inflation, currently at 4.3 per cent (RPI), as well as a high cost of living locally.

Mother of chapel Karen Jeffery said: “Members have taken this step reluctantly but it has to be seen against a policy of real cuts in staffing that has meant the quality of our publications suffer for readers and advertisers alike.

“Johnston Press continues to make big profits from Milton Keynes at the expense of its staff who, as anyone who knows us will appreciate, show real commitment in providing our city with the best free newspaper in the country.

“This is a modest pay claim and we still hope it can be settled quickly and satisfactorily.”

NUJ organiser Barry Fitzpatrick added: “Journalists at the Citizen feel sorely let down by management.”

No one from the company was available to comment.

Citizen editor Jan Henderson said: “As of this point we have had no communication from the NUJ that they are taking industrial action. “If and when they do we will be issuing a comment from our head office.”