Journalists at Newsquest York, publishers of The Press, are set to take industrial action this Friday in a dispute over pay increases.
According to industry news site Hold The Front Page, National Union of Journalists chapel members voted in a ballot last month for “action up to and including a strike.”
It is alleged that editorial staff at Newsquest York have not seen a pay rise in three of the past four years in comparison to bumper executive bonus and shareholder dividends.
Mark Stead and Tony Kelly, joint fathers of chapel at Newsquest York, said in a statement “In three of the last four years, the hard work and dedication of Newsquest York editorial staff has not been given the recognition it deserves in the form of a pay rise.
“Our members have simply had enough of Newsquest’s pleas of poverty while its directors pocket huge bonuses and profits are siphoned off to American shareholders at the expense of quality journalism.”
Union officials say they have been unable to find a solution to what they call “divisive approach to pay bargaining” which also saw Newsquest employees in Darlington, where The Northern Echo is based, being offered a 2pc pay increase.
In a letter to staff in August, managing editor at Newsquest York Steve Hughes said: “As you know, trading conditions for Newsquest York were very difficult in the first quarter and the company said it would review the position again at the end of June in the hope that a pay review might be possible.
“Against this backdrop of continuing uncertainty within the economy, the company has decided that there will be no pay review this year.
“I know this will be a disappointment to all staff but any addition to our costs at a time when there are no signs of growth in our business cannot be justified.”
Union officials say they are still keen to work towards a resolution “by making suggestions about possible alternatives to a pay rise, such as a one-off lump sum payment, additional holidays and changes to working hours, all of which have been rebuffed.
“We remain entirely willing to work with Newsquest Yorkshire and North East Ltd to reach an agreement, but are committed to taking industrial action as and when necessary through a mandate which can remain in place for the rest of this year.”
According to the union, Newsquest’s Yorkshire & North East division made a pre-tax profit of £1.87m in 2011, with staff costs falling 8.5pc.