Journalists in York who face a pay freeze – which when inflation is taken into account is equivalent to a pay cut – are balloting for industrial action.
The staff working for Newsquest (Yorkshire & North East) Ltd decided to ballot for industrial action following notification by the company that they will not get a pay rise in 2012. The staff had been told there would a salaries review. The company publishes The Press, the weekly paid-for Ryedale paper, the Gazette & Herald, a free weekly paper, the York and Selby Star, the websites thepress.co.uk and gazetteherald.co.uk and Yorkshire Living.
The pay freeze for York staff comes despite colleagues in Darlington, working for the same company, being offered a 2 per cent increase, albeit delayed by three months from the January 1 pay anniversary date.
Staff in Bradford are still waiting to hear from management about their 2012 pay award. 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. Staff at Newsquest in Colchester have called a mandatory union meeting this week to discuss their pay deal.
Steve Hughes, managing editor Newsquest York, said in a letter to 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."
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."
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern & Midlands Organiser, said: "Our members at York are clearly at the end of their tether with a company that refuses to recognise the difficult financial situation they and their families face, thanks to enforced pay stagnation over such a long period. "They have said 'enough is enough' and I am confident the ballot will produce a result that Newsquest would do well to take seriously."
The York ballot will open on August 28 and close at noon on September 11.