Unite has reacted angrily to plans by newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror to freeze pay increases for its staff in 2009.
The publisher this week claimed that the severe economic downturn, which has seen a drop in advertising figures, had led to a number of actions being taken to safeguard the business.
Already some 1,200 staff have been made redundant, 44 titles have been closed and the group has announced the closure of its Liverpool plant by the end of 2009.
A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: "We are now taking additional actions to protect the business including no bonuses to be paid relating to 2008 and a company-wide pay freeze.
"However, in recognition of the hard work and commitment required we have introduced a special 2009 incentive scheme in which all employees will participate."
The news has not been well received by Unite, or its counterpart the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Steve Sibbald, national officer at Unite, said: "For the last few years when Trinity Mirror has enjoyed huge profits employees have had moderate increases, as well as suffering job cuts and closures. Now, when profits are down but still healthy, they expect employees to suffer a wage freeze.
"The company has now done a huge U-turn in that they have always insisted that each of their sites would be judged separately for any collective bargaining, a national strategy from them will therefore provoke a national reaction from us."
He continued: "Our members have never had the luxury in the good times of sitting in boardrooms giving themselves wage increases, big bonuses and share options. They rely solely on their annual collective bargaining just to keep up with price rises, if the company take even that away they can expect a robust reaction."