NUJ: Trinity Mirror announces “savage” job cuts

Trinity Mirror has announced a further 49 redundancies, reports the NUJ.

NUJ: Trinity Mirror announces “savage” job cuts

As reported by the National Union of Journalists: The specific details of the cuts and restructuring remain unclear. Nevertheless the cuts will have a major impact on already weakened newsrooms and four regions will be affected by the announcements so far.

Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset and Dorset in the South West, the East Midlands, West Midlands and the North West of England will all be subjected to significant and harmful changes.

The latest restructuring move arises from the implementation of the Birmingham Live project in December and the company are claiming the move will help to create a "long-term sustainable and profitable business model". The company also claim the plans will help Trinity Mirror "adapt to meet the needs of audiences and advertisers" adding "our daily news operations will continue to be based locally and to cover live, breaking news."

The union believes these are laudable goals which will not be achieved by the plans announced. The company want to achieve 'efficiency' savings by using more of the same content, they intend to rebrand a series of websites, and cut print journalism jobs. The company’s announcement includes no details that imply that locally-based work refers to anything other than where the office is based.

There appears to be a significant impact on the workforce in Tamworth in Staffordshire, 11 jobs are at risk including the group editor, and this represents a 60 per cent cut to the existing jobs. Tamworth is currently a hub for producing free newspapers and the company have implied that the current business model is not sustainable for some titles, risking the closure of the Walsall Advertiser incorporating the Great Barr Observer. The company has already shut the Walsall Observer.

In the East Midlands 16 roles could be made redundant and this will impact on Derby, Nottingham and Leicester. The Burton Mail website will be shut and absorbed into Derbyshire Live. At the moment the workforce cover two counties and fear the changes will alienate many readers.

In Liverpool there are plans for eight redundancies with three new roles created. In Coventry, the company are targeting one of three content editors and one of three specialist reporters but they also plan to hire two trainees. The changes proposed for Bristol and the other South West centres is still emerging.

The company has not engaged with its staff or the union in advance of making this announcement and the details again demonstrate that Trinity Mirror are welded to a strategy of cutting costs, cutting journalists and reducing the variety of information and content provided to local communities.

Whilst Trinity Mirror are orchestrating these brutal cuts to their own workforce, they are also receiving public money, paid out via the BBC licence fee and known as the 'local democracy reporters' scheme. The union is extremely concerned that Trinity Mirror may be using this public subsidy to plug the gaps created by getting rid of their own employees.

Chris Morley, Trinity Mirror NUJ coordinator, said: "In the days following the chief executive’s bragging that Trinity Mirror was a 'very profitable' company and putting millions of pounds in the pocket of Richard Desmond to buy the Express Newspapers stable off him, our members are incredulous at this savage blow to journalism across big parts of the group.

"We know that shareholders are being handsomely rewarded with a 6.4 per cent dividend pay-out and that the company has effortlessly stumped up a further £10million to try to smooth over the hacking scandal victims.

"We also know in recent weeks that Trinity Mirror has gobbled up the lion’s share of £8 million that has been cut from the BBC’s budget for journalism to provide 'local democracy reporters'.

"Yet all the time, senior managers have been plotting these huge numbers of job cuts that will have a major impact on already badly weakened newsrooms. If digital is to be a success for the company, our members want to see a company committed wholeheartedly to it with investment in editorial.

"Instead, the same grim recipe of cuts, increasing stress for those who remain and a sapping of morale as members again feel let down by their own leaders.

"Shockingly, for those being made redundant in Local World centres, their exit will come with only the statutory minimum as Trinity Mirror continues to treat staff in these operations as second class employees when they want to take away their jobs. This is unacceptable and shaming and something the union will continue to highlight.

"The inquiry that Theresa May called for in the media cannot come soon enough to shine a searchlight on newspaper companies who continue to enjoy huge profits but fail to invest in their staff."