A regional publisher which recently axed meal allowances for its journalists has reported a near-200pc rise in operating profits.
HTFP reported last week that the Midland News Association, which publishes the Express & Star and Shropshire Star, has scrapped meal allowances for staff members, while also putting a company holiday home used by staff up for sale.
Now it has emerged in the company’s accounts for 2012 that its operating profit rose to £2m, up from £0.7m for the previous year.
The figures also show the company’s wage bill fell by £1.8m as the number of employees dropped 15pc to 690, with £900,000 paid out in severance payments to staff.
Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands Organiser for the National Union of Journalists, said: “The scrapping of meals allowances for many MNA staff under the threat of dismissal and re-engagement was a bitter pill to swallow.
“But now we find out that last year the company did well with a 200pc rise in operating profits to £2m – despite spending £900,000 on redundancies and with the number of employees consequently falling heavily.
“And with one director racking in £191,000 when the overall pay bill for the company went down by £1.8m, it seems those at the top are out of touch with the effect the starvation of editorial resources has and how that impacts on journalists.
“MNA journalists are proud of the professional job they do in the face of adversity but that cannot be taken for granted for ever.”
The union has also raised concerns about the long hours being worked by journalists but Chris said that an attempt for talks with the company about the issue was rejected.
The Midland News Association has declined to comment.