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Further action announced for strike-hit newspaper

Disgruntled staff on strike at the Milton Keynes Citizen have announced a further six days of industrial action.

NUJ members at the Johnston-owned title are today on their third consecutive day of strike action. But now similar action will take place in two three-day stints from next Monday and February 5.

Karen Jeffery, Citizen features editor and mother of the NUJ chapel, said: “We want to keep pressure on management to resolve this.

“We feel it’s important to do that – we never intended to do three days and then just quit.

“We feel we’re doing the right thing and we have right on our side.

“We’re not only doing it for us, we’re doing it for all other regional journalists.

“We’ve had lots of texts saying ‘you’re fighting for us too’.”

NUJ members at the Citizen voted for strike action earlier this month.

The union said the company had 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.

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.

Eleven editorial staff, including three photographers, sub-editors, reporters and the news editor, are picketing outside their offices.

Karen said they had been boosted by a high volume of local support.

She added: “It could not be going better – we’ve just had so many people visiting the picket line.

“Dr Phyllis Starkey, MP for Milton Keynes South West, came down and has pledged to phone the editor on our behalf.

“We’ve had both BBC and ITV here and even our rival paper the MK News has been down to support us.

“There’s a lot of feeling locally (among media) that we’re on the same side.”

A statement from Johnston Press said: “As previously stated, the overall company offer is generous given the current economic climate.

“It combines a fair basic increase with significant improvements in the existing salary structure.

“Steps will continue to be taken to ensure that the quality and frequency of our publications will not suffer as a result of any action taken by the NUJ in Milton Keynes.”