Members of the NUJ chapel at the Independent and Independent on Sunday have voted by 105-1 to ballot for industrial action over pay.
The union says the ballot follows the refusal of management at the papers to start talks about the absence of a 2010 pay award. The pay award was due last April, following a year's pay freeze, but the chapel agreed to postpone talks until August, while the newspapers were sold to Independent Print Ltd (IPL) and its operations were reviewed.
The NUJ says the IPL has refused to enter talks until December. The company has also said any pay award will depend on the success of it new publication i newspaper, the 20p streamlined version of the Independent aimed at commuters, without giving details of how this will be measured, and only payable from January 2011.
Staff are also angry about the "extreme and unsustainable" working hours demanded by management due to what they describe as the "chaotic organisation and under-resourcing" of the new paper.
NUJ national newspapers organiser, Barry Fitzpatrick said:“We’re appalled by the managing editor’s assertion that ‘Working on the newspaper means that we have to be flexible’ at a time when he knows that staff are working harder, and for longer hours than ever, to improve the fortunes of the papers.
“It’s completely unacceptable that at the same time, management are refusing to talk about the outstanding pay award for these staff. The NUJ chapel at the titles will be conducting a working hours survey, to demonstrate just how much workloads have increased.”
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
You can contact me with stories, ideas and comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery