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Midlands strike threat over compulsory redundancies

Union members at Trinity Mirror titles in the Midlands are threatening a two-day strike next month if anyone is made compulsorily redundant in the current round of cutbacks.

As reported on HoldtheFrontPage last month, the company is planning around 65 redundancies in a series of changes to its operations in the region.

Regional managing director Steve Brown has said he is “confident” the process can be completed without the need for any compulsory job losses.

But National Union of Journalists members at the Midlands titles, which include the Birmingham Mail and Coventy Telegraph, are holding open the threat of a two-day strike on October 7 and 8 if anyone is ultimately forced to lose their job.

NUJ Northern organiser Chris Morley said: “If anybody is made compulsorily redundant there will be strike action. But I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

The strike threat was issued last night by NUJ chapels meeting in Birmingham and Coventry after members voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.

A resolution passed by the Birmingham chapel stated: “The chapel acknowledges the company’s commitment to no compulsory redundancies and will review the action following the results of the selection process by October 6.”

In effect, this means that if, by that date, management has been able to confirm that no-one will be forced to lose their job, the union will reconsider its strike call.

In a statement to HoldtheFrontPage today, Mr Brown said: “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.”

“I’m not sure what advantage any form of industrial action can achieve. 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.”


In Despair (19/09/2008 11:21:22)
We’ve just heard that they have appointed a person to be the Birmingham Mail executive editor who has a background in magazines and subbing with NO news experience. People who would have had the instant respect of the staff have been overlooked. Baffling and sad to say people in general have lost all confidence in the management and the editor in particular. The appointment reflects the new emphasis on getting stories on pages ahead of any news decisions or judgement. Get it out and who cares about the quality is the new mantra.

Head in Hands (19/09/2008 12:03:37)
To put your new mantra another way, In Despair, it’s ‘Never mind the quality, feel the way we spread the content as thinly as possible across web, wap, email and any other fancy gizmo we can use to disguise the fact that we actually don’t have any reporters doing a proper reporting job nowadays’.

Steve Dyson (19/09/2008 13:40:18)
Unfair comment. Stacey Barnfield is the new executive editor referred to. He has 16 years experience in this company, has spent the last three years as Assistant Editor on the Mail and is highly respected. He went through a stringent selection and interview process that involved myself and regional editorial director Neil Benson and got the job on absolute merit. He even wears cardigans on occasion… they’re just not old and grey.

Mr_Osato (19/09/2008 16:16:36)
All power to the union, time to draw a line in the sand and fight ANY redundancies – Trinity Mirror can afford to pay them and needs ’em in case anyone with a bit of vision miraculously finds their way into the boardroom. Remember folks, trying to disrupt, delay or de-rail this process can only be harmful to TM’s profits and the bonuses of the senior staff who are stabbing you and your readers in the back. As for the ‘executive editor’I have no idea who Stacey Barnfield is or what an executive editor does but good luck to him. Now you’ve got assistant editors, executive editors, a regional editor and whatever it is Dyson does – hmm, anyone else see a more legitimate target for cost savings there?

Blofeld (19/09/2008 16:51:16)
We meet again…

AnnoyedMember (19/09/2008 19:33:22)
A strike? Ha! The union has no intention. I wish they had. I wanted one three weeks ago, but they had no stomach. The ‘threat’ is over compulsory redundancies… well, given they wanted 65 to go and at least that many have signed up, guess what? There ain’t gonna be no compulsory r’s and therefore no reason to strike. Missed your chance, NUJ. Waste of my subs. Thanks.

Not annoyed member (20/09/2008 12:28:29)
So you wanted an illegal strike did you? The ballot was taken as soon as possible – if there’s a mad stampede for the door because all staff have lost confidence in Trinity Mirror in the Midlands and the management team there, then the NUJ can hardly be held responsible…We may still strike – so many people are desperate to leave the coming ‘sausage factory’ style operation we might insist on more vol redundos.

Roger Jones (20/09/2008 21:06:51)
Stacey Barnfield may well have been working on magazines in recent years but he was a news sub when I worked Saturday shifts on the Sunday Mercury four or so years ago. NUJ Northern Organiser Chris Morley can confirm if anyone has doubts -he was a Saturday afternoon sub on the Merc too. Come on folks, get your facts right, please. Isn’t that what journalists are supposed to do?
And good luck to Stacey. (Could this be sour grapes on the part of whinger In Despair, surely not.)
The other points made could well be valid but let’s get the facts right.

AnnoyedMember (21/09/2008 09:21:09)
Don’t make me laugh. You seem to be suggesting a strike for more voluntary r’s. Off your rocker. And I tell you what… for lots of personal reasons my form was one of the first in: if other’s prevaricated that’s their look-out.

Zu Ton (23/09/2008 13:00:32)
Oh Stacey, Look what you done.