Journalists at Newsquest Essex in one-hour walkout

Newsquest journalists will hold a one-hour walkout tomorrow over a pay dispute after voting in favour of industrial action.

NUJ members at Newsquest-owned Essex County Newspapers, based in Colchester, will hold a one-hour mandatory chapel meeting in protest at the company’s ‘failure to adequately negotiate over pay and plans to introduce a single pay anniversary that will leave some staff waiting until June 2013 before any wage increases are considered”, the union said in a statement released this morning.

Father of the Colchester Chapel, Will Lodge, said the chapel was still ‘committed to talks with management’but claimed that ‘a potential third year out of four with no pay rise was unsustainable for members”.

‘Members don’t want to take action but feel they have been left with little choice as their pay packets continue to shrink compared to the cost of living,’he said.

‘Communication with management is ongoing and we hope to avoid strike action.

‘The chapel meeting discussions tomorrow will be about our next steps and is not intended to be disruptive.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet added: “The action in Essex is taking place as journalists at Newsquest centres around the country are hearing the news that their pay will be frozen, with reviews carried out later in the year.

‘If no pay awards are made in 2012 it will be the third year in four that Newsquest journalists’ salaries have stood still.

‘While thousands of staff were forced into the second year of a pay freeze in 2009, company accounts show that the pay of the firm’s chief executive Paul Davidson rose by 21.5 per cent to £609,000.

“Hard working journalists at Newsquest have suffered years of cuts whilst the company continues to pay out millions to senior executive staff.

‘The union continues to support journalists who stand up against the harsh and unjust pay regime at Newsquest.”

Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson was unavailable for comment.

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