Journalists at a regional daily threatened by job cutbacks have voted to take industrial action over low pay.
National Union of Journalists members at the Swindon Advertiser have announced the proposed action, which comes amid proposals by parent company Newsquest to axe five editorial staff at the newspaper.
Of the 16 members eligible to take part in the ballot, 12 voted yes for industrial action while none voted against, with no spoiled papers.
Announcing the result, the NUJ’s Swindon chapel said it believed Advertiser journalists were “among the lowest paid on a daily title in the UK”, with senior reporters earning between £19,000 and £20,000 per year.
Newsquest announced last month that the group web editor, news editor and three content managers based at Swindon were at risk of redundancy in a restructure.
The Swindon NUJ chapel claimed one junior reporter has already left because of the “dreadful” rate of pay.
It said in a statement: “By voting overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action, journalists on the Swindon Advertiser have shown their frustration at the low pay which reporters have to put up with and the refusal of management at the Newsquest title to take part in meaningful negotiations.
“Other Newsquest centres, such at Newport and Bolton, have gone some way to address the poor pay of their journalists by giving above-inflation rate pay rises this year. A negotiated settlement between Newsquest and the NUJ in Swindon had not been reached.”
“In August a pay increase of 1.7pc was imposed for those earning up to £20,000 and 1.5pc for those above. There was no increase at all in 2016, living costs continue to rise steeply in Swindon as inflation continues to cut into journalists’ living standards.
“Difficult trading conditions are repeatedly given by management as the reason for failing to address the issue of poor pay, but members have no reason to believe that trading conditions are any better in Bolton and Newport than they are in Swindon – indeed Newsquest’s own tables for print and digital figures consistently feature Swindon near the top.
“If the current redundancy proposals for roles in Swindon of content managers, news editor and social media and web editor go ahead, the workload of reporters will increase significantly, an issue which management is refusing to discuss with union members.
“The proposal sadly shows that no matter how much experience you have, or how successful you are, Newsquest doesn’t value its staff and puts making savings above the reputation of its titles.”
A Newsquest spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the NUJ has taken this stance and it seems they are not in touch with the real world and oblivious to the huge pressures on the economics of local newspapers.
“Despite the fact that Swindon’s revenues are declining by more than 10pc, the staff there received a pay increase just four months ago. We are of course happy to continue to have meaningful discussions with the NUJ in order to resolve this issue.”