NUJ members at Newsquest-owned Essex County Newspapers, based in Colchester, have voted in favour of strike action and action short of a strike over pay.
It comes as the NUJ reports that Newsquest journalists across the country are facing another pay freeze, with reviews due to be carried out later in the year.
The Essex journalists will take short of strike action tomorrow by holding an hour-long mandatory chapel meeting to protest at what the NUJ says is the company’s failure to adequately negotiate over pay and plans to introduce a single pay anniversary that will leave some staff waiting until June 2013 before any wage increases are considered.
Will Lodge, FoC at Colchester, said the chapel was still committed to talks with management but believed a potential third year out of four with no pay rise was unsustainable for members.
He said: “Members don’t want to take action but feel they have been left with little choice as their pay packets continue to shrink compared to the cost of living. Communication with management is on-going and we hope to avoid strike action. The chapel meeting discussions tomorrow will be about our next steps and is not intended to be disruptive.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "The action in Essex is taking place as journalists at Newsquest centres around the country are hearing the news that their pay will be frozen, with reviews carried out later in the year.
"If no pay awards are made in 2012 it will be the third year in four that Newsquest journalists’ salaries have stood still. While thousands of staff were forced into the second year of a pay freeze in 2009, company accounts show that the pay of the firm’s chief executive Paul Davidson rose by 21.5% to £609,000."