Leicester Mercury staff vote for industrial action

Strike action could be coming to the Leicester Mercury within two weeks after members of its chapel of the National Union of Journalists voted in favour of industrial action in a row over pay.

Some journalists at the Northcliffe Media-owned paper are unhappy with the company’s three per cent pay rise offer for 2007, which as well being below the current 4.2 per cent rate of inflation and is also less than reporters on comparable east Midlands titles receive.

But the paper’s editor Nick Carter said today that less than a quarter of the paper’s staff was in favour of strike action. He said that when the chapel achieved recognition last year it claimed 52 members but now has 44. Of the 35 voted who the ballot, 21 voted for strike action and 22 for action short of a strike.

Carter said: ‘It would appear that only half the total union membership and just 21 per cent of the total bargaining unit are in favour of industrial action.

‘Given the numbers involved, we hope the union will act responsibly before committing members at this newspaper to industrial action that could damage our relationship with our readers and hinder the progress we are seeking to make on newspaper sales in a difficult market.”

The chapel will meet on Thursday to discuss what sort of action to take. The union must give seven days’ notice before any action can take place.

Chris Morley, NUJ North and Midlands Organiser, said: ‘There is massive discontent about pay at the Mercury and NUJ members are determined to win a fair deal. The fact that the paper’s journalists haven’t taken industrial action in decades speaks volumes about how our members feel. The Mercury’s management ignore that strength of feeling at their peril.

‘Our preference would be to find a negotiated settlement to this dispute, and there is still time for the paper’s editor to come back to the table. However, if it takes a strike to make management see sense then our members are ready to take action.”

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