Walkout could threaten Indy's Budget coverage

By Dominic Ponsford

The Independent’s coverage of Budget Day could be severely hit if some 200 journalists go ahead with a planned 24- hour strike on Wednesday.

Some 67.5 per cent of those voting have said yes to strike action following a ballot in protest at this year’s annual pay rise of 2.5 per cent.

Out of 191 ballot papers sent out, 107 were returned and 72 – around a quarter of the total editorial workforce – said yes to strike action. However, all NUJ members could potentially join the walkout and those crossing the picket line would run the risk of union disciplinary action and even expulsion.

According to the NUJ, more staff have joined the union since the ballot, bringing membership at the Independent above the 200 mark out of a total editorial staff of 275.

Negotiators from the NUJ were due to meet with management on Thursday.

NUJ members believe they deserve more recognition for the success of the Independent’s switch to tabloid format, but the management has pointed out that the Independent titles remain loss-making.

The decision to hold a one-day walkout from midnight on Wednesday was taken at a chapel meeting on Tuesday.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “By voting for strike action journalists have made it clear they will not sit back and accept crumbs from the table while senior management are handsomely rewarded through generous bonuses or inflation-busting pay rises. If the papers are a success it is in large part down to the hard work and professionalism of the editorial staff, and it is time their contribution was recognised.”

No-one from the Independent management was available for comment.

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