Trinity Mirror received a stark message from its shareholders as almost half voted against the pay deal for Sly Bailey, the chief executive, and other members of the board.
The newspaper group's top brass were told in no uncertain terms by shareholders at the annual general meeting that the company's strategy was not working. Almost a quarter of the shareholders voted against approving the Trinity Mirror long-term incentive plan. Almost a fifth signalled their disapproval of Jane Lighting, the remuneration committee chair, by voting against her re-election.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "David Grigson, the new chairman, cannot ignore the strong message from the meeting. The shareholders made it crystal clear that the strategy of cuts after cuts carried out by Sly Bailey has severely undermined the business.They made plain their anger at Sly Bailey pocketing more than £14 million when the share price has plummeted by more 90 per cent and half the workforce has been cut. Trinity Mirror executives were the highest paid out of eight media companies in the FTSE 350, yet the performance of the organisation has been disastrous.
"Mr Grigson cannot ignore the wishes of the meeting which echoed the NUJ's call for a strategy of growth and innovation. He must make the link between quality journalism and a successful newspaper and digital business."
Sly Bailey will leave the company at the end of the year. Sir Ian Gibson, the outgoing chair, denied a report that she would receive a £1 million pay off. David Grigson, a former chief finance officer of Reuters and EMAP, will start in August.
At the meeting, Chris Morley, NUJ Northern Organiser, said: "It has been a strategy of despair rather than success and achievement. Ever since Sly Bailey arrived we have had year after year of cuts – and not always when the economy was bad – tens of millions of pounds of cuts and lots of good quality journalists, which has left the business weaker."
Speaker after speaker among the shareholders condemned the performance of the Trinity Mirror managment.
After the meeting, Chris Morely said: "The NUJ has said consistently that Trinity Mirror executive pay was unjustified and corrosive on morale within the company. We therefore urge Mr Grigson to have the foresight to link the in-coming chief executive's pay package to that of the company's workforce much more closely. An employee representative should be elected to the remuneration committee to make sure the confidence of both shareholders and employees is gained."