Essex County Standard The Essex County Standard is one of Newsquest's Colchester-based titles
Journalists at Essex County Newspapers, based in Colchester, will join their colleagues at nearby Basildon in taking strike action next week.

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at the two Newsquest centres, which publish titles including the Colchester Gazette and Thurrock Gazette, will walk out over pay.

Members of the Colchester NUJ chapel will join in a one-day walkout on Wednesday, 15 February; their Basildon colleagues, working for Newsquest South East Essex titles, are striking for three days from Monday to Wednesday (13-15 February).

Basildon-based journalists are currently taking part in a two-week work to rule, which began last Monday (30 January).

Chapel reps at both centres have told the NUJ that action was being taken reluctantly and said members were still open to talks with management to resolve the dispute and avoid the action.

According to the NUJ, 75 per cent of members working for Essex County Newspapers voted to take strike action. The turnout was 69.6 per cent.

Will Lodge, father of the Colchester chapel said in the release: "Members want to show management how grave they feel the pay situation is.

"This is not an action we are taking lightly. We have been negotiating since October on the issue of pay and have not yet received even a crumb.

"By calling this action we hope management will sit up and listen to us, without us having potentially to resort to further, more escalated action.

"We hope this dispute can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction before we undertake any strike action – our door is always open for meaningful negotiation.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary said in the statement: "Newsquest has a dismal track record of attacking journalists' wages whilst bosses at Newsquest and Gannett continue to reward themselves with lavish pay and bonuses.

"Our members have a simple demand – fair pay that genuinely reflects the hard work and commitment they continue to show the titles they work for."

Describing the reason for the strike as a "pay freeze", the union has said that "if no pay awards are made in 2012 it will be the third year in four that Newsquest journalists’ salaries have stood still".

The NUJ said 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 to be carried out later in the year".

Martin McNeill, the editor of both the Basildon and Colchester titles, today told "We are disappointed to hear about this proposed industrial action.
"While we are not in a position to increase salaries at Newsquest Essex at the moment, due to difficult trading conditions, we have made it clear we will review the situation in June .    
"A strike would achieve nothing except the loss of pay for those involved. We hope the NUJ will call off the proposed action and work constructively with us to achieve our targets for 2012."

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