The National Union of Journalists has called on Trinity Mirror shareholders to demand the company publish the difference in pay between its top executives and regional reporters.
And it has also called for an end to job cuts claiming that more than half the group's journalism and production jobs have been cut since 2004.
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In a letter to be presented to shareholders at Trinity Mirror’s annual general meeting in Canary Wharf today, the NUJ also said it has “grave concerns over crisis staffing levels within the group” and demanded an end to editorial cuts.
The letter says that the basic salary of former chief executive Sly Bailey, who was on £750,000 a year before she left the company in June 2013, was 40 times higher than the median salary of a reporter on one of Trinity Mirror’s regional titles. Chief executive Simon Fox now earns 26 times the salary of an average reporter, claims the union.
“Boardroom pay under Sly Bailey was a runaway gravy train that bore no relation to other salaries in the group,” said Chris Morley, northern and Midlands organiser at the NUJ. “There is still a huge gap between the chief executive and what an average reporter earns.”
Morley said publishing the multiples between reporter and executive pay would be “a reality check” that could limit top-end salaries.
In the letter, the NUJ has also called for the appointment of an employee on to Trinity Mirror’s remuneration committee. The letter continues:
“This year’s annual report says the remuneration committee is ‘sensitive to the levels of the remuneration packages of other employees within the group when deciding executive pay.’ But the NUJ believes well-heeled non-executive directors are not in touch with the reality of pay in the group’s newsrooms.”
The NUJ further told shareholders that “relentless cuts” were affecting staff morale. According to the NUJ the group has halved the number of of production and editorial staff it employs since 2004, going from 6,000 to 2,700.
“We want to call a halt to the editorial cuts as the company has a duty of care to its employees,” said Morley. “We are telling them the remaining employees are at breaking point.”
The NUJ has presented a survey to Trinity Mirror management, showing that there is “endemic stress” among its journalists. It is in discussion with the group over what actions can be taken following the survey.