Trinity Mirror‘s Midlands titles will be hit by a two-day strike over redundancies next month after staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.
Journalists at the Birmingham Post & Mail, Coventry Telegraph, Solihull Mail and the Midland Weekly Media (North) series are to stage a 48-hour strike on 7 and 8 October.
Their union, the National Union of Journalists said it recognised the company’s attempts to make seek volunteers for the 65 proposed job cuts and would make a final decision on strike action on 6 October. If it goes ahead the strike will be one of the longest walk-outs in recent regional newspaper history.
Trinity announced a major project to modernise its Coventry and Birmingham newsrooms in August. All 300 staff have been made redundant and have to re-apply for new jobs.
Union members at all the papers agreed on a statement which read: ‘The chapel supports the ongoing consultation process and progress made to date in terms of pay protection and establishing a working party on a digital/multi media working agreement.
‘But the chapel requires further progress on redundancy payments and revisiting the new editorial structure, as well as improving pay for our trainee colleagues on the weeklies.
‘While it is hoped no compulsory redundancies will be necessary, the chapel still believes that the loss of 70 editorial jobs will have a negative impact on the quality of the titles/brands.”
NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley said all the affected chapels were ‘united’in seeking better terms and conditions in what will be a radically altered Midlands newsrooms.
‘The strength of the votes for industrial action should send the strongest message to bosses that the chapels will not tolerate any journalist being forced out the door,’he said. ‘The ball is now firmly in the company’s court and if they do not fulfil their aim of achieving their cuts by voluntary means, they know what the consequences will be.”
In 2005 Coventry Telegraph NUJ members staged 25 days of strike action in a long-running dispute over pay, including one five-day stoppage. Strike action was only narrowly avoided at the paper last October after its management agreed to hire more staff to fill vacant positions.
Trinity Mirror regional managing director Steve Brown said that the company was “confident” there would be no need for compulsory redundancies and said that strike action would be harmful to all concerned”.
‘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.”