Legal and parliamentary campaign aims to save Mirror jobs
2 July 2010
The NUJ's defence of members facing the sack at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People is pushing ahead with a legal, parliamentary and campaigning strategy.
A Facebook campaign to save the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People has been launched. The campaign is determined to put a halt to a new wave of devastating job cuts to editorial staff at the titles.
The series of cuts recently announced by Trinity Mirror, parent group of the titles, are planned despite their national newspaper division making a profit of £83.6m in 2009. Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror chief executive, pocketing a 66% bonus rise of nearly £700,000 on top of her £736,000 basic salary and pension contributions of £248,000.
The NUJ is backing up to 80 Mirror journalists facing the sack without receiving a single penny in redundancy pay.
Dozens of journalists, dubbed "casuals" by the company, have been told they are to be sacked and do not qualify for redundancy payments because they are not employees, despite the fact many of them have worked loyally for the company for years.
The "casuals" are being told instead that they have to sign a gagging clause in return for a token ex-gratia payment. Following the intervention of the NUJ's legal team, cases are being prepared to challenge the company's actions.
Roy Mincoff, NUJ Legal Officer, said:
"We have exposed Trinity Mirror's serious abuses of individuals' rights and are working with Mirror journalists to challenge these actions. This is a disgraceful way to treat journalists who have contributed so much."
Kevin Maguire, NUJ member and Daily Mirror journalist, said:
"As a member of the NUJ for nearly 30 years, I urge all my colleagues on the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People to join the union. Individually and together we need the union's advice, experience and legal expertise in these uncertain times."
Members of Parliament have written to Mirror bosses calling on them to halt the threatened job losses and condemning the threat to the future of the titles posed by the cuts.
An Early Day Motion has been tabled in the UK parliament contrasting the "excessive rewards given to Trinity Mirror Chief Executive Sly Bailey… totalling £1.6m" with the threat to the livelihoods of up to 200 Mirror workers. MPs already supporting the motion include Austin Mitchell, Peter Bottomley, Mark Durkan, Paul Flynn, Andrew George, Kelvin Hopkins, John McDonnell, Linda Riordan, Bob Russell and Hywel Williams.
Trinity Mirror bosses were put on the spot over the axing of journalists' jobs at their annual shareholders' meeting. Officials and reps from the NUJ and Unite spent more than an hour questioning senior executives, including Sly Bailey over job and budget cuts affecting many of the group's titles.
Bosses said there were no further plans for job cuts – just days before announcing the axing of 200 posts at national titles. So the cuts are either unplanned or rushed. Either way they spell disaster for the titles and their ability to continue to deliver quality journalism.
Paul Routledge, NUJ member and Mirror journalist, said:
"We must defend jobs and expose the opportunistic use of production management techniques to carry out staffing cuts rather than invest in quality journalism, in this campaign we need to stick together."
The NUJ is urging Trinity Mirror to explore every possible avenue to avoid further redundancies and is demanding that the employer consult and negotiate with workforce representatives. The union has also appealed to the leadership of the BAJ union, which is recognised at the titles, to work alongside the NUJ to organise co-ordinated action to defend jobs.