Pay negotiations have been underway between the paper’s management and its NUJ chapel since March. After the failure of talks before Christmas and the intervention of the conciliation service ACAS the chapel will decide exactly what action to take early next week.
The union said it was calling for a 3.5 per cent pay increase to ‘reflect the increased number of titles being produced with reduced staff numbers”.
According to the union, 17 Milton Keynes journalists currently produce the Thursday, Tuesday and Leighton Buzzard editions of the Citizen, the Business Citizen and local edition pages on three separate areas, as three magazines and the paper’s online content.
Staff members have told the union they are unhappy that their pay has not been kept in line with inflation or the local cost of living.
The paper’s NUJ mother of chapel, Karen Jeffery, said: ‘Members have taken this step reluctantly but it has to be seen against a policy of real cuts in staffing that has meant the quality of our publications suffer for readers and advertisers alike.
‘Johnston Press continues to make big profits from Milton Keynes at the expense of its staff whoâ€¦show real commitment in providing our city with the best free newspaper in the country.”
NUJ national newspapers organiser, Barry Fitzpatrick, said: ‘This is a modest pay claim and we still hope it can be settled quickly and satisfactorily.
‘Journalists at the Citizen feel sorely let down by management. Our members went into the Christmas period with some hope that this long running issue could be resolved, yet the new year response from management has been wholly negative.’
The union did welcome the company’s proposal to introduce a salary banding pay structure for staff
The Citizen’s editor, Jan Henderson, said he was aware that the union had balloted for strike action but had had “no official notification about any strike action” from the chapel and would not comment further.