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Strike action vote at Trinity Mirror's Midlands titles

Journalists at Trinity Mirror’s titles in the Midlands have voted in favour of industrial action.

The National Union of Journalists says, of those members who took part in a secret postal ballot, 84pc opted in favour of full strike action, while 97pc voted in favour of action short of striking.

The vote was taken in response to the news that Trinity Mirror plans to shut nine weekly newspapers, merge two others and axe 17 editorial roles.

The polls took in journalists on the Birmingham Post and Mail, Coventry Telegraph, Sunday Mercury and Midlands Weekly Media titles.

It is also being claimed that the Birmingham Post could reduce its frequency and the Birmingham Mail could switch to overnight printing but no official comment has been made by Trinity Mirror on this.

Similar ballots are currently taking place at Trinity Mirror centres in Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley said: “This ballot result is a strong indication of the feelings of our members at Trinity Mirror in the Midlands about the cuts that have been announced and the others that we believe are planned.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, said: “Let’s hope this strong ballot vote will bring the company to the negotiating table.

“Trinity Mirror management should realise that compulsory redundancies, and the attacks on journalism in the Midlands that they propose, are totally unacceptable to their own workforce.

“If the chapels in the Midlands have to take industrial action against these cuts the union will give them our full support.”

NUJ members in Birmingham and Coventry are meeting later this week to decide their next move.

A spokesman for Trinity Mirror said: “The NUJ’s claims are hugely misleading when in reality less than 45pc of all those who were balloted voted in favour of this strike action.

“We are obviously disappointed with this reckless and negligent decision. We are fighting to secure the future of our businesses in the Midlands which are now running at a loss, and this action will not benefit their members in any way whatsoever.”


Will Ande Testament (20/07/2009 19:50:17)
The Birmingham Morning Mail – One morning edition as from 5th September I believe.
The Birmingham Post as a supplement one day a week.
The Express and Star to go as a free in all but Wolverhamton, Walsall and Dudley from the New Year and then all editions from the spring 2010
Local authorities to reduce their press/comms teams by half ( nothing much to respond to really apart from those awful BBC chaps – who are about to have a taste of public spending cuts like never before ( Summer 2010)
Wrote any best sellers lately?

Stavros Sportey (20/07/2009 23:08:51)
Sadly accurate to hear the Mail described as the ‘British Leyland of regional newspapers’ at a debate last week. It’s certainly being run as badly as the car maker and is probably equally doomed. I understand the E and S is already giving away some editions, but only in outlying areas (Stafford,Lichfield) but that its Black Country heartland is still as impenetrable as ever to outsiders so there is little chance of it going free on a wider scale in the forseeable future, especially as the part paid/part free strategy hasn’t exactly been a great success in Manchester. It wasn’t that long ago that the Mail was outselling the E and S, now it barely shifts half as many, even if you throw in the Post’s meagre ‘sales’ and I remember the days when the Post sold more than the Mail does now. If ever there was an example of how not to run a newspaper group the Post and Mail is it; wrong strategy, weak editors, reluctant owners, only still there because no-one else would take it off their hands. Will we really end up with a Second City dominated by frees? If so, shame on those sitting in their ivory towers at the Fort. Good luck to the NUJ staff and Chris Morley for finally drawing a line in the sand. And just a final thought on Will’s comments because for all their faults, its still the Post and Mail/ E and S journos chasing up the local authority press offices. BBC staffers wouldn’t know where to start with a story that hadn’t been in print at least two days earlier.

Steve Dyson (21/07/2009 10:30:49)
As ever, amusing to see ‘brave’ pseudonym types calling others ‘weak’! It actually takes balls to want to lead the Birmingham titles given the challenging market they are in. That’s balls from the management down to trainee level, all people who could easily duck and go to work somewhere less difficult. Er, but they don’t. Hope you enjoy keeping your heads under the parapet, Stavros and Will…! While you doomsayers seem to like tempting self-fulfilling prophecies, all of us at The Fort will keep on working hard to secure the titles’ futures in the real world.

loco (21/07/2009 10:31:56)
BBC staffers? Their idea of research and news gathering is checking the local weekly or evening (morning paper). Lazy and arrogant mostly and producing some of the most boring visual images you will ever see on TV.
Hate to see the good ones go though- just cull the dross.

Rich Simcox (21/07/2009 10:54:17)
Good luck and solidarity to the TM journalists in the midlands and elsewhere. The whole of the union is with you.

Beth (21/07/2009 11:01:37)
I disagree that it takes balls – a lot of people don’t have much choice in the current climate – but it does take stamina. Credit to all the people still at the Fort because it takes an immense amount of stamina to continue to stomach the constant cuts from Trinity’s panic attack over the current state of the economy. To stay doing the job for all the reasons they decided to get into journalism, after the constant lack of appreciation for their enthusiasm and devaluing of their work is truly admirable. It would be understandable for the majority of them to have the “you don’t care? Fine, I don’t care either” attitude, resign, and go join PR comapanies. I say hats off to everyone still at Fort Dunlop, purely for their staying power.

stewart perkins (21/07/2009 12:11:30)
Balls and more balls….it takes some to vote for industrial action and follow it through. Given the recent actions of the management, NUJ members are left with no alternative. Solidarity and best wishes to you all.

RedFlagger (21/07/2009 12:18:46)
since when does solidarity = 25% of staff? that’s the proportion saying ‘yes’ to strike action in brum. a quarter…

John (21/07/2009 13:28:44)
It takes balls but let’s be honest – what’s the alternative?
Most of us aren’t going to get PR jobs anyway because there aren’t enough of them around, so we have to sit down dig in and strike. To pay the bills.

FAST WOMAN (21/07/2009 13:37:25)
Reality check, Steve. It takes balls to serve on the frontline in Afghanistan. They are not in the ‘manning The Fort’ job description for
continuing to handwring and preside over what Trinity Mirror says is a loss-making business.
It might take a bit of pragmatism and a calculator (redundo versus salary and nice company car until heart attack… divided by time taken to get another job multiplied by dignity).
It might even involve an abiding love of the poor ailing papers and websites, and the knowledge that if YOU don’t make the latest round of Trinity Mirror cuts they’ll always find someone who will.
But balls, no.

Voice of Reason (21/07/2009 14:11:39)
Crisis in the media and what do the NUJ come up with? A strike! Surprise surprise.
Much like in Leeds they’ll lead them on to the picket lines, wait till the cash runs out and then prattle on about “standing up for journalism” while the people whose jobs they were meant to be saving pick up their P45s.
When oh when is the NUJ actually gonna engage with the malaise of regional media with anything other than ludiocrously outdated tactics.Grow up

Stavros Sportey (21/07/2009 17:38:26)
As ever, Steve Dyson really doesn’t help himself… even in a subject area he knows all about, ie. talking ‘balls’. It’s all very well being ‘brave’ when you’re the editor I suppose; less easy when you’ve got freelance contracts/career prospects to worry about in the actual ‘real world’ Dyson doesn’t seem to understand, well away from royal garden parties. Hence anonymity on this occasion. Would Mr D be quite so ‘brave’ if he was posting about his bosses? Let’s see you put your name to that one Steve.
Cue goon-ish response… probably under a pseudonym.

Steve Dyson (22/07/2009 10:21:47)
My habit is to put my name to what I believe in, ‘Stavros’, and on many occasions that has not necessarily coincided with bosses’ views. To my mind there is no issue in doing that, as long as you term your views in a reasonable way and show proper respect for people. I understand folk may feel at risk and can see why they might prefer the anon approach in making general comments about the situation. But to me it stands out as cowardly to castigate others personally under such a cloak. Have a re-read of your comments and reflect.

Hengist Pod (22/07/2009 11:38:56)
The bottom line is that Trinity Mirror really don’t seem interested in the Midlands business and haven’t been for some time. Attempts to sell it pre-recession were ditched but it’s high time the powers that be in Canary Wharf sold it to someone who’s interested in making a go of it – even if it means letting it go for a bargain price

Bertie (22/07/2009 12:03:59)
Hmm – my post yesterday seems to have vanished…. so to repeat, I noted that SS’s comment about the B’ham Mail outselling the Express & Star probably recalled the days pre-2000 when the Post & Mail group falsely claimed inflated ABC figures for all their paid titles. This was extensively reported at the time (just in case anyone thinks it was a malicious comment. If the Mail ever truly outsold the E&S it must have been a very long time ago.

Kenno (22/07/2009 15:40:44)
What will a strike actually do? It won’t stop the cuts, but it will prove that they can get the papers out without paying staff a full week’s wage. Very dangerous indeed. Going out on strike when a company is making savings is effectively offering yourself up for more

Bill (22/07/2009 16:19:06)
No quotes from the local union reps again. This looks more and more like a campaign for the NUJ to justify its role in the 21st century rather than actually trying to help the staff in Birmingham. The union could have decided to use the information it says it found to get involved in the management discussions but has chosen to heckle from the sidelines instead. Good luck to the staff in Birmingham, we all need it these days, but I wish the NUJ would act in the interests of members, rather than its leadership.

Hengist Pod (22/07/2009 16:24:40)
Well Bill. I can only assume you don’t work at Birmingham, otherwise you’d appreciate just how miserable the situation is there. TM have closed 9 papers including the 150-year-old Walsall Observer and are getting rid of photographers completely on the weeklies. This isn’t a company that’s being trimmed and made more efficient it’s being run into the ground slowly and systematically

TrickyD (23/07/2009 11:54:32)
Reality checks all round?!
The bottom line here seems to be that there are no winners management, staff or unions.
FACT. The Birmingham business and Trinity Mirror overall (along with other publishers) are not generating the level of profit required to maintain investment and to keep shareholders happy. Whilst the NUJ are not keen on the shareholder argument it is a fact of life when you are a Plc (or owned by one).
FACT: The local union representatives are a good bunch with their hearts in the right place. In my experience they were always journalists first and NUJ reps second. It must be galling to see something you care so much about falling down round your ears when you have put so much personal investment into it.
FACT: The staff are a top notch bunch of individuals who work hard, want to do a good job and are proud of their role in their community.
FACT: Until a publisher is brave enought to go to they city and say “we intend to provide margins of around 8-10% per annum rather than the 20%+ expected this vicious cycle will continue. In truth it will take a very brave board to try.
Maybe the only solution is fornewspapers (both national and regional) to be owned privately? Let’s face it, a private owner earning 8-10% ROS would be a happy individual.
I wish you all the very best and don’t envy any of you the struggle that lies ahead.