Daily admits it's lost $100m and appeals for staff to resume work More than 20 journalists at Sing Pao Daily News went on strike yesterday over unpaid wages, but management of the struggling Chinese-language newspaper said production would not be affected. The daily blamed the pay problems on losses of nearly $100 million in the past 12 months. It appealed to the staff to return to work, saying their action had seriously affected operations. The staff action was launched after negotiations with managers collapsed overnight. Twenty-three of the paper's editorial employees - including news reporters, photographers, and a senior editor - called in sick yesterday. Assistant editor Kwok Yin-ling is understood to be among the protesting journalists, who account for nearly half of the news department's staff. The stayaway was prompted by the failure of negotiations over the past month to resolve the non-payment of salaries. Only a minority of reporters took part in the action. One said they had nothing to lose, since their jobs were 'effectively unpaid'. 'The problem has been lingering for over a year. We are fed up. It is time to act,' said the reporter, who did not want to be named. She said the next step would depend on management's response to the stayaway. Some of the protesting reporters claimed they had not been paid for two months and management had failed to set a date to pay them. 'We talked to the editor [on Friday] and he said to us that the paper had no money to pay staff,' said another reporter. The cash-strapped newspaper has been dogged by disputes over unpaid salaries since 2004, with staff claiming they were often paid a month late. The daily admitted that poor management had contributed to its losses, for which a 'difficult market climate' was also to blame. It said a new management team had begun taking steps to alleviate the situation. The paper has changed hands twice in the past six years. In November it announced that its advertising revenue for the six months to September was down 35 per cent over the same period in 2004. Earlier this month, some of the junior editorial staff members were paid their March salaries after reporters threatened to strike. But many were left unpaid. Acting editor Poon Hei-chung said publication of the newspaper would not be affected, as arrangements had been made to ensure sufficient manpower in the newsroom. He said he appreciated his reporters' concerns and there were no plans to punish those on strike. A Labour Department spokeswoman said it had received inquiries from some Sing Pao employees. 'We are monitoring the situation and hope both sides can talk it over,' she said. The Hong Kong Journalists' Association said it fully supported any lawful action taken by the staff.