Pay freeze prompts Newsquest Yorks strike ballot

Newsquest journalists in Yorkshire will ballot for strike action after being told they will not get a pay rise in 2012.

The NUJ said that when inflation was taken into account it was equivalent to a pay cut and that the company had reneged on a previous promise to carry out a salary review.

Titles that would be affected by the strike include The Press, weekly paid-for the Gazette & Herald, free weekly the York and Selby Star, and the thepress.co.uk and gazetteherald.co.uk websites.

The pay freeze for York staff comes despite Newsquest colleagues in Darlington being offered a 2 per cent increase, according to the NUJ.

Bradford staff are reportedly still waiting to hear whether they will get a pay rise.

In a statement the NUJ said: ‘If no pay rise is forthcoming at York and Bradford, as for all other Newsquest centres except Darlington, 2012 will be the third year in the last four that members have had to endure a pay standstill.”

Mark Stead, York Father of Chapel, said: ‘The pay increase for staff at the Northern Echo in Darlington is richly-deserved, but the same goes for editorial staff in York who do not work any less hard or give any less commitment, time and professionalism to their roles, including taking on extra duties such as social media.

‘This ballot is not a course of action we want to take, but the sheer intransigence of Newsquest Yorkshire & North East and its stance of treating employees separated by only 57 miles differently leaves our members with no option.

‘This is the third time in four years staff at an award-winning newspaper, one of the finest in the north of England, have had to put up with unacceptable pay and a lack of willingness by Newsquest to appreciate and value the work they do. The result of this has been plummeting morale and rising anger.”

According to the NUJ, the managing editor of Newsquest York, Steve Hughes, told staff: “As you know, trading conditions for Newsquest York were very difficult in the first quarter and the company said it would review the position again at the end of June in the hope that a pay review might be possible. Against this backdrop of continuing uncertainty within the economy, the company has decided that there will be no pay review this year.”

Staff at Newsquest in Colchester have also reportedly called a mandatory union meeting this week to discuss their pay deal.

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