Journalists in strike ballot over Trinity Mirror Midlands job cuts

The four National Union of Journalists chapels affected by Trinity Mirror‘s huge shake-up in the Midlands are to ballot for industrial action.

The move follows news on Tuesday that some 300 journalists at papers including the Birmingham Mail, the Birmingham Post, the Sunday Mercury and the Coventry Telegraph have been consulted about possible redundancy and asked to re-apply for new jobs.

Trinity Mirror has indicated that up to 65 editorial jobs are to go.

A 90-day consultation is currently underway about the changes, which come ahead of the move of the Birmingham titles to a new integrated multimedia newsroom in Fort Dunlop, on the outskirts of Birmingham, in November.

Journalists have been given until 12 September to express an interest in the new positions – which reflect a more multimedia and internet-focused operation.

The Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull NUJ chapels today sent a joint letter condemning Trinity Mirror’s decision to make journalists reapply for their jobs.

The letter states: ‘This creates uncertainty for employees and their families and is hugely damaging to staff morale.”

It follows meetings of NUJ members on Wednesday and Thursday.

The NUJ chapels have expressed fear that some journalists could get pay cuts under the new system.

However, Press Gazette understands that Trinity Mirror does not intend to cut anyone’s pay – and to increase salaries paid for some new multimedia roles.

According to the NUJ, photographers could be paid less than reporters under the new system because while pay for the new role of “multimedia journalist” will increase, pay for “multimedia image journalists” will stay the same.

The NUJ letter to management states: ‘The chapels call for guarantees that staff will be given the training they need so that they don’t drop down to level one through lack of training.

‘We are also calling for multimedia image journalists, the new job for photographers, to be paid the same rate as multimedia journalists, the new job for reporters. This is because they’re equally skilled jobs and should be paid equal rates as they are at present.

‘The NUJ welcomes new technology but deplores the sledgehammer way it is being introduced as a knee-jerk reaction to what is likely to be a temporary economic downturn.

‘We do no believe our readers will be best served by reduced numbers of journalists expected to take on extra work which will inevitably leave them less time for news gathering and investigation.”

The Coventry Telegraph chapel has condemned proposals to reduce sports coverage.

The letter also states that journalists ‘have many concerns and issues with the way this is being handled, lack of clarity in many areas, conflicting messages from managers, and, in particular no right of appeal over reassignment”.

NUJ assistant organiser for the north of England Jenny Lennox said: ‘The key thing is that everybody is going to have to re-apply for their jobs, people are absolutely devastated by it.

‘For people who have been loyal to the company for a long time, it is a real slap in the face.”

The terms for those being made redundant are understood to comprise two weeks pay for every year of service up to a maximum of 20 years. Press Gazette understands that Trinity Mirror is to seek voluntary redundancies where possible.

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