STAFF at Ireland's oldest newspaper are to ballot this week on a 5pc wage cut. Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) -- publishers of the 'Irish Examiner' -- has told staff the wage cut is critical to the company responding to challenging conditions in the Irish newspaper market.
Last year, members of the pension scheme who had not yet reached retirement were told that their future benefits were being halved.
The firm has also closed or disposed of a number of its regional titles that were underperforming, including 'The Kingdom' and 'The Irish Post'.
Now, staff at TCH's core Cork-based operations -- the 'Irish Examiner' and the 'Evening Echo' -- are to begin balloting this week on the proposed 5pc wage cut.
The firm had initially sought a 7pc wage cut but this was eventually negotiated back to 5pc.
However, it remains unclear whether staff will receive a 2pc wage hike deferred several years ago. If voided, it would mean staff are still facing an effective 7pc cut.
The National Union of Journalists will conduct a postal ballot of its members this week with the result due next Monday.
One staff member -- who asked to be unnamed -- said the outcome of the various ballots hung in the balance.
"No one knows what is going to happen -- on the one hand everyone wants to protect jobs but, on the other, we have already given up an awful lot over the past three years, including a major writedown on pensions," he said.
Over the past decade, the firm invested heavily in regional titles, 'The Sunday Business Post', radio stations and 'The Irish Post' in the UK.