Thurrock Gazette front page

NUJ members working at the Thurrock Gazette and sister titles have voted to take strike action

Journalists working at Newsquest's South East Essex titles have announced that they plan to walk out for three days next month.

More than 90 per cent of National Union of Journalists members voted in favour of strike action, after a pay review was delayed.

According to an NUJ statement, 90.5 per cent of members voted in favour of strike action and 95.2 per cent in favour of action short of a strike.

The industrial action is due to consist of a two-week work to rule, starting on Monday, 30 January, followed by three days of strike action starting on Monday, 13 February. 

NUJ members at Newsquest South Essex and Essex County Newspapers, which publish 17 titles including the Colchester Gazette, the Essex County Standard, Basildon Echo and Thurrock Gazette, were both balloted over strike action. The results of the Essex County Newspapers have not yet been reported.

Up to 34 people, the number of NUJ members working for the South East Essex titles, could walk out for three days next month, Sally King, mother of the chapel, told

King expressed her "disappointment" that "management has told non-unionised members of the editorial team at the Echo and its sister papers, the Colchester Gazette, Thurrock Gazette and Chelmsford and Brentwood Weekly News, that they will be awarded overtime payments for working 10-hour shifts during the strike action".
Staff were reportedly due a pay rise in January this year but were told this would not be given and would be reviewed again in June, but without any guarantees of a rise.
"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 statement said.
"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 per cent to £609,000."
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the NUJ, added in a statement: "It is the price paid by media workers who produce Newsquest and Gannett profits. The company time and again fails to recognise hard-working staff are the business' best assets." 
King added: "No one wants to take this action. It is a reflection of the deep disappointment and genuine concern about their ability to pay bills that members feel, that they voted this way.
"By freezing pay - and even when a rise is offered keeping it well below inflation - it seems members of staff are being penalised for their loyalty."

Newsquest had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Update: The editorial director of Newsquest Essex Martin McNeill issued a statement on Friday (27 January) to say: "We would be very disappointed if the proposed industrial action by some of our south Essex journalists went ahead.

"We have not imposed a pay freeze at Newsquest Essex. The company is not in a position to increase salaries at the moment, due to difficult trading conditions, but we have told staff we will review the situation in June.

"A three-day strike would achieve nothing except the loss of three days’ pay for those involved.
"We have always kept the door open for discussions on pay and other matters. 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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