Journalists at a regional daily in South Essex are to stage three days of strike action over pay.
Members of the National Union of Journalists at the Basildon-based Echo will work-to-rule for two weeks from Monday followed by a three-day stoppage from Monday 13 February
The chapel claims managers have told non-union members at the Echo and its sister papers that they will be awarded overtime payments for working 10-hour shifts during the strike action.
Last week the chapel voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action on the grounds in response that Newsquest Essex has frozen pay.
The union says journalists have had only one 2pc increase in the last four years and were due a pay rise this year. They were told by the company this would not be given and would be reviewed again in June, but a pay rise is not guaranteed.
Mother-of-the-chapel Sally King said no one had wanted to take this action but that the vote was a reflection of the deep disappointment and genuine concern that members have about their ability to pay bills.
Said Sally: “By freezing pay – and even when a rise is offered keeping it well below inflation – it seems members of staff are being penalised for their loyalty.”
The chapel said it was disappointed to hear management has told non-union members at the Echo, the Colchester Gazette, Thurrock Gazette and Chelmsford and Brentwood Weekly News that they will be awarded overtime payments for working 10-hour shifts during the strike action.
Martin McNeill, Newsquest Essex editorial director, said: “We would be very disappointed if the proposed industrial action by some of our south Essex journalists went ahead.
“We have not imposed a pay freeze at Newsquest Essex. The company is not in a position to increase salaries at the moment, due to difficult trading conditions, but we have told staff we will review the situation in June.
“A three-day strike would achieve nothing except the loss of three days’ pay for those involved.
“We have always kept the door open for discussions on pay and other matters. We hope the NUJ will call off the proposed action and work constructively with us to achieve our targets for 2012.”