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York Newsquest journalists say 'enough is enough'

21 August 2012

Journalists in York facing a pay freeze – given the inflation rate, the equivalent of a pay cut – are balloting for industrial action.

Staff at Newsquest (Yorkshire & North East) Ltd balloted for industrial action after the company said they would 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; websites The Press and The Gazette & Herald; plus Yorkshire Living.

Newsquest staff in Darlington have been offered a 2 per cent increase, albeit delayed by three months from the 1 January 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 past four that members have had to endure a pay freeze.

Newsquest staff in Colchester have called a mandatory union meeting this week to discuss their pay deal.

Steve Hughes, managing editor of 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 a pay review might be possible.
"Against this backdrop of continuing uncertainty in the economy, the company has decided there will be no pay review this year."

Mark Stead, York father of the 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 different treatment of employees separated by only 57 miles 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 28 August and close at noon on 11 September.

Tags: newspapers, york, pay freeze, ballot, regional newspapers