Only way is out as Essex journalists protest over pay

by - 18th January 2012, 7.30 GMT

Journalists in Colchester are this lunchtime walking out of work in protest at their employer’s failure to negotiate over pay.

NUJ members at Newsquest-owned Essex County Newspapers, have voted in favour of strike action and action short of a strike and will at lunchtime hold an hour-long mandatory chapel meeting.

Father of Chapel Will Lodge said the chapel was still committed to talks with management but believed a potential third year out of four with no pay rise was unsustainable for members.

He said: “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. Communication with management is on-going and we hope to avoid strike action. Today’s chapel meeting will be about our next steps and is not intended to be disruptive.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Today’s 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% 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.”