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NUJ members attend Trinity Mirror AGM

Members protest outside the Trinity Mirror AGM

Members protest outside the Trinity Mirror AGM  -  © NUJ

16 May 2013

NUJ members attended the Trinity Mirror AGM on Thursday 16 May to highlight the key issues and concerns of journalists working for the company.

The NUJ handed out letters to shareholders that said:

Thursday 16 May 2013

Dear Shareholder,

Trinity Mirror's reputation took a battering in last year's "shareholder spring" where the then chief executive's swollen £1.7 million pay package hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Sly Bailey fell on her sword when you, the shareholders, told her the performance of the company nowhere near matched her fabulous rewards.

Her basic salary of £750,000 was 40 times that of a weekly reporter in the provinces. While some of this anger appears to have been recognised by senior management, the top paid executive's base salary is still 26 times that of the same reporter.

This year's Annual Report says the Remuneration Committee is "sensitive to the levels of the remuneration packages of other employees within the Group when deciding executive pay." But the NUJ believes well-heeled non-executive directors are not in touch with the reality of pay in the group's newsrooms.

That is why we ask you to support the principle – recommended by the Will Hutton Report on fair pay – of putting an employee on Trinity Mirror's Remuneration Committee to give that sense of reality and perspective.

Another sensible call, for the company to publish the multiples of earnings between the chief exec and the middle paid staff, would help apply a reality-check on executive pay too.

The NUJ also wants to inform you of our grave concerns over crisis staffing levels within the group and the risk it poses to the longer term health of the business.

In 2004, Trinity Mirror employed 6,000 "production and editorial" staff. Last year that figure was 2,700. Yet in February, the company axed a further 92 journalists in the English provincial and Welsh titles it owns.

But relentless job cuts are hitting the remaining staff hard. Work is not diminishing- in fact additional tasks are being asked of editorial staff.

An NUJ survey of more than 230 journalists showed they are near breaking point.

Applying the Health and Safety Executive's own measures, "urgent action" is required to tackle endemic stress.

The £10 million "targeted structural cost savings" this year are not cost-free and will degrade quality no matter what the board will tell you. In an age of media diversity it is quality that will count and we are confident you as shareholders know that.

We hope you will join with us in helping to get the message through to the directors. We thank you for taking the trouble to read this briefing.

National Union of Journalists

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern & Midlands Organiser, said:

"NUJ reps, members and officials will again be putting across to shareholders – and directly to the board – what the key issues are for journalists within the company.
"Our members have faced wave after wave of redundancies in the last five years and this has had a massive impact on the day-to-day demands placed on our members. These increased workloads are not cost-free, either for journalists or the company.
"Editorial resources are stretching to breaking point and we want to make that crystal clear to the decision-makers in the company.
"We also want to highlight that boardroom pay excesses are no longer acceptable to staff or the public generally.
"To prevent the runaway gravy train under Sly Bailey – which harmed the image of the group – there needs to be checks and balances. That's why we're calling for an employee to be able to inject a dose of realism by sitting on the renumeration committee and having a commitment to publish how much more the chief executive is paid relative to the middle salaries of all employees."

Tags: shareholders, , trinity mirror, pay, newspapers