Large majority vote in favour of strike action at Trinity Midlands titles

Journalists are set to strike at Trinity Mirror‘s Midlands titles after staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over a round of 65 redundancies, a new pay structure and changes to job roles.

The Birmingham Post and Mail National Union of Journalists chapel yesterday returned a 68.4 per cent mandate for indsutrial action with 71 per cent of NUJ members voting.

The Coventry Telegraph and Midlands Weekly News (Solihull Times and News) voted 84.5 per cent in favour with a 79 per cent turnout and the Midlands Weekly Media (North) series, which includes the Tamworth Times and Walsall Observer, returned a 90.7 per cent vote in favour with a 61.5 per cent turnout.

NUJ Northern Regional Organiser Chris Morley said: ‘These are incredibly strong results which show the resolve of our members to stand up to compulsory redundancies. This isn’t just about a single workplace. Members across Trinity Mirror in the Midlands have made their views clear about the proposed cuts and their implications for the staff who remain.”

Trinity Mirror regional managing director Steve Brown said the company hoped there would be no compulsory redundancies and said that strike action would be harmful to all concerned”.

Morley was today meeting with the chapels to discuss what action to take. Voting was also high in favour of holding action short of a strike, such as imposing work-to-rule conditions..

Last month Trinity announced plans to radically change working practices at its Birmingham and Coventry centres, with a £7.5m investment in new technology and content management system ContentWatch.

Jenny Lennox, the union’s assistant northern organiser, said Trinity told the union yesterday that nearly all the 65 redundancies across the Midlands titles had been filled by volunteers though she said it was unclear whether they were in the right areas to be accepted for redundancy.

‘We were notified that there may be enough volunteers at Birmingham, but management haven’t definitely come back to us on that one so that may affect what action chapels want to take,’she said.

Trinity Mirror regional managing director Steve Brown said the company was “confident” there would be no need for compulsory redundancies and said that strike action would be harmful to all concerned”.

“I’m not sure what advantage any form of industrial action can achieve,” he said. “The stakes are simply too high for us to be deflected from the action we have to take. Ultimately we have to create a solid and workable platform for the hundreds of journalists and other staff who will be part of the business going forward and collectively we need our energy and attention devoted to that. Trying to disrupt, delay or de-rail this process can only be harmful to all concerned.

“We have indicated to the NUJ that we are confident that the Trinity Mirror Midlands restructure can be undertaken without the need for compulsory redundancies. We are all working hard towards achieving this goal and we are confident that strike action can be avoided.”

Strike action at Johnston Press‘s Sheffield centre is scheduled for Wednesday although the union has said the final decision is dependent on the outcome of talks with managers.

The paper’s bosses plan to make five compulsory redundancies including the reporters for Barnsley and Rotherham and to shut their town centre offices.

The NUJ chapel at the Sheffield Star held a mandatory chapel during working hours last Wednesday and gave notice to hold another next week, pending the outcome of the talks.

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