Staff working on popular local newspapers ‘The Daily Echo’ and ‘Hampshire Chronicle’ have voted an overwhelming 95% in favour of taking industrial action over a two year pay freeze.
The journalists are employed by news publisher ‘Newsquest’ which has a monopoly of local titles including the Echo, Hampshire Chronicle and weekly freebie ‘News Extra’ – it also publishes ‘Eastleigh Borough News’ on behalf of the council.
Although its owners admit that even despite the recession, Newsquest still “makes a lot of money’ it is trying to extend a two year pay freeze and close its pension scheme while at the same time shedding workers.
Gracia Martore, financial director at the company’s US parent, Gannett, boasted last Friday
“Let me once and for all dispel the myth that Newsquest doesn’t make money. Newsquest makes a lot of money… they have consistently made money throughout the years, even in a year like last year when revenues were under as much pressure as they were.”
The National Union of Journalists is calling on Newsquest management to “fairly reward dedicated and hard-working staff” adding that while the company directors awarded themselves a 21.5% pay rise last year, pay freezes combined with an increase in the cost of living means that staff at Newsquest have led to “a pay cut in real terms”
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary said:
“Newsquest’s continuing attacks on its own journalists combined with greed in the boardroom have been truly exposed. The business remains profitable but consistently fails to fairly reward staff.
It is not acceptable for the company to continue attacking pay and conditions and treat the workforce with such contempt.
Our members have simply had enough and this has been shown in the ballot result.”
No one at Newsquest’s Echo office in Eastleigh was available for comment today but a local news blogger, 53 who did not wish to be named, reacted angrily saying.
“It was recently reported that one of Newsquest’s directors, Roger Green derided local news start-ups as ‘zero-revenue publishers’. Now we see how Newsquest rewards the professionals who create massive revenue for them – by paying them peanuts and closing their pensions.”
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