Journalists in County Durham are starting the new year by taking industrial action on three consecutive days.
Workers at the Northern Echo in Darlington, part of Newsquest North East, are angry about job cuts and a pay freeze. Members of the National Union of Journalists chapel (union branch) at the Darlington-based company voted by 90 percent for industrial action.
The company wants to impose a pay freeze for 2009 and cut the editorial team by 11 to save money.
A disruptive meeting held on Monday of this week that started at noon continued for the remainder of the working day, with the editor of the paper coming to address workers and listen to their demands. Further meetings were planned for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
On Monday of this week journalists at the Newsquest centre in York received the results of their ballots for industrial action over similar issues. Workers voted overwhelming in favour of strike action against redundancies. Workers also voted for action short of a strike against pay.
Journalists in Cumbria are holding a ballot for industrial action over job cuts that they fear will add to the long hours already worked by staff.
Managers at the North West Evening Mail are trying to cut four editorial jobs – even though some NUJ members have chalked up weeks of time off in lieu that they can’t take because of current workloads.
NUJ members at the Barrow-in-Furness arm of Cumbrian Newspapers have voted to hold the ballot to give them the legal right to take action if negotiations break down.
Chapel members are worried that the current proposed redundancies are just the beginning, as the company has already vowed to worsen the terms on which staff might leave.
Chris Morley, the union’s Northern Regional Organiser, said, “The chapel are determined to fight any compulsory redundancies. They are not prepared to see colleagues picked off.”