Newsquest protest
Staff at Newsquest titles in certain regions are understood to have been asked to take a week's unpaid leave in response to "poor trading conditions".

An internal Newsquest memo circulated in Wales, Gloucestershire, and the South Midlands earlier this week says that revenues are "considerably below last year's performance".

"It is important, therefore, that we take all actions necessary to drive revenues and control costs sooner rather than later," the memo adds.

"There are choices but none of them are easy and some of them are less palatable than others."

Regional managing director Gavin Steacy is understood to have begun a series of presentations to staff across the regions on Tuesday and is visiting titles in Wales today.

A member of staff from the south-west Wales region told

"We are obviously disappointed. Down here in south-west Wales we have had a number of redundancies over the last two years and frankly, we felt that we had turned a corner.

"But it now appears that we are being asked to take a week's unpaid leave.

"The mood is pretty despondent."

News of the request for unpaid leave was especially difficult to hear in light of the improved pay offers made to Newsquest staff in the south-east, he added.

"One of my colleagues made the rather acerbic observation that staff in the south-east had been offered pay increases and now we are going to be asked to take unpaid leave. Is that so they can fund the pay increases down there?

"Are they robbing Peter to pay Paul?"

Staff at the Birghton Argus and Southern Daily Echo were made a 2 per cent pay offer by Newsquest management earlier this month after a series of two-day strikes at both titles.

It is understood that staff fear they may be made redundant in July if they do not accept two days' unpaid leave in this quarter and three more in the remaining quarters of 2011.

Newsquest has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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