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Newsquest Scrooges get Xmas message

5 December 2007

Two NUJ chapels are preparing to ballot for industrial action over plans by Newsquest's Scrooge-like bosses to increase employee contributions to its pension scheme.

Members at the York and County Press chapel will vote on action to prevent Newsquest's plan to increase contributions from six per cent to 10 per cent by 2011.

Sam Southgate, joint father of the chapel at the York and County Press, said:

"Our chapel members feel rightly angry they will be forking out 4 per cent in extra pension contributions when Newsquest York is making £4.5 million a year. The changes on pensions also come against the background of a poor, below-inflation pay award.
"Our members already feel they are poorly paid for the skills and work that they do. It is another attack on their income and working conditions.
"Not all members are in the pension scheme, but the chapel voted unanimously to support those who are in it and to say as loudly as we can that it should be open to all members and protected for the future."

Chapel members are planning a double whammy for their bosses – they are also balloting for action short of a strike over plans to make reporters carry video cameras without any additional training or pay.

Sam Southgate said:

"The company wants journalists to use video equipment – even if they have not been properly trained. The chapel has three key concerns before this work will be undertaken. These are that there are proper staffing levels, proper training and extra pay for new skills and responsibilities.
"We had cuts in staffing last year with two reporters less and now we also have two colleagues on maternity leave, so taking on this extra work in these circumstances stands to damage both the newspapers and website. The increased workload involved would be bound to hit quality."

Fellow group chapel members at the Northern Echo in Darlington will also be balloted on industrial action over pensions.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern & Midlands organiser, said:

"Ever since Newsquest announced their plans for the pension scheme back in the summer, members have been waiting for the opportunity to show their anger.
"We are only too glad to be able to give our Christmas message to the management and hope they have an Ebenezer Scrooge moment and rethink the devastating effects their plans will have on staff and quality at the newspapers."

Tags: , newsquest, newspapers, industrial action, ballot, York and County Press, York