Trinity Mirror has announced a year-long pay freeze for its staff, just three years after the last one.
Staff now face a real-terms cut in take-home pay as inflation is running at almost five per cent. The announcement was made despite a report by the group, which owns national and regional titles, showing increases in circulation - the Sunday Mirror benefited from a 61 per cent increase following the closure of the News of the World.
The report said: “Advertising markets are expected to remain challenging, showing year-on-year declines and month-on-month volatility for the remainder of 2011 and into 2012. However, for the rest of this year we anticipate continued year-on-year growth in circulation and other revenues."
The company says it has to find £70m by June to keep its financial covenants in place. These historic debts were built up by highly-paid directors, without regard to the consequences if times changed. Under the pay freeze, Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror chief executive, will continue to earn a basic salary of £740,000 and a bonus likely to top £600,000, as she did last year. A senior reporter working for a Trinity Mirror regional title can expect to earn between £21,000 and £26,000.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “Trinity Mirror’s pay freeze is a kick in the teeth for its hard working staff. Journalists are already working overtime to get their paper out, following cuts to newsroom staff. It's time Trinity Mirror sat down with the NUJ for national discussions on the group's future strategy, so all options for 2012 can be discussed."
Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands Organiser, said: “The NUJ is really concerned that the company is turning on its staff, at a time of an unparalleled squeeze on living standards, to make sacrifices while simultaneously putting them at risk of losing their job.
“If the situation is as serious as the company makes out, the board needs to engage in serious dialogue with its staff to navigate its way through these difficult circumstances. The NUJ has consistently called for such talks with Trinity Mirror but has had this offer constantly rejected. It is time that Sly and her colleagues realised a new, imaginative and inclusive approach is needed as the old one is clearly not working. Exceptional times need exceptional measures so let’s get talking.”