Express Newspapers, whose national newspaper stable includes one Sunday and two daily tabloids – the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star – is bracing itself for a strike by journalists from all three papers.

The group, acquired last year by multi-millionaire pornographer Richard Desmond (proprietor of such journalistic jewels as Big Ones, Asian Babes and Nude Readers’ Wives), has restricted pay rises for its 115 editorial staff to 2%.

The walkout, supported by 63% of the staff, is scheduled for next Friday March 22, the device being a mandatory union meeting timed for 5pm and 8pm – a critical period for the production of all three papers. Should Desmond fail to divvy-up, the move will be repeated on the two following Fridays.

Says National Union of Journalists' general secretary Jeremy Dear: “Staff want a significant pay rise to take into account the fact that they are down by 150 staff on this time last year, and that working conditions are substantially worse.”

“[Desmond] thinks nothing of spending £300,000 ($427,120; €485,940) on a photoshoot of the inside of a house belonging to the cast of ‘EastEnders’ [a British TV soap],” continues Dear, “but won't pay £150,000 to increase staff's pay. This puts into perspective the feeling among journalists at the newspapers.”

The group’s claim to be on course for a £68 million profit, along with unresolved health and safety issues, are other trigger points in the dispute.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff