A petition calling on regional publisher Newsquest to end its ongoing pay freeze has been signed by nearly 300 people ahead of a meeting of US shareholders.
The National Union of Journalists launched the petition last month which called on the publisher to end its salary freeze because it was causing financial hardship for staff.
The union has now written to Gracia Martore, chief executive of Newsquest’s US parent company Gannett, about the pay freeze and sent her a copy of the petition, ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on 7 May.
It highlights how salaries for Newsquest journalists had failed to rise since 2008, apart from a below-inflation pay rise in 2011.
The letter, written by NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, said: “Our petition highlighted just two of many anecdotes our members tell us of their difficulties in getting by on Newsquest wages. The mother who has returned to work after having had her second baby, but finding she is paying half her take home pay in childcare.
“The reporter having to beg cash from her news desk to buy enough fuel to get her to where the story is.
“These should not be the experiences of skilled journalists who believe passionately in their work, but who also want to feel that the organisation they work for cares about them and what they do.”
The petition claims that Newquest made a £58m operating profit last year, while Ms Martore had promised American shareholders a $1.3bn reward over the next two years.
Bob Smith, FoC of the Newsquest Group Chapel, said: “Newsquest and Gannett bosses would do well to read some of the real tales of hardship told by the journalists without whom their publications would be nothing.
“Newsquest is a profitable company that can afford pay rises for its staff; it just chooses not to.”
No one at Newsquest had responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.