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Reach AGM, 2019

NUJ delegation to the Reach agm  -  © nuj

2 May 2019

A delegation from the NUJ warned Reach shareholders and board members of unfair pay, looming cuts and a growing gender pay gap when it joined the company’s AGM on 2 May.

Reach is the largest national and regional news publisher in the UK, publishing the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Sunday People, Daily Record, Daily Star and OK! plus regional titles including the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Mail and Bristol Post.

In a statement, Simon Fox, chief executive officer, said he was pleased with a “solid start to the year”.  He reported the group’s revenue had grown by 4.4 per cent, reflecting the benefit of the Express & Star acquisition. But, like-for-like figures, excluding the Express titles, showed a year-on-year revenue decline of 6.4 per cent. The net debt had been reduced to £22.2m after £20.3m of a £39.7m loan used to help acquire the Express & Star titles was repaid early.

The statement said the company was on track to deliver cuts of at least £20 million per annum by 2020 and while print revenue fell 7.9 per cent, digital grew by 8.4 per cent.

The NUJ presented a letter to shareholders which said the union wanted to highlight concerns “in a spirit of constructive engagement”.  It noted concerns about:

  • the planned £10m cuts in 2019, on top of £20m made last year, which is distressing for employees. It said “we hope you would support better management of stress and mental health in Reach workplaces”;
  • the lack of fairness in pay, with the chief executive’s package equating to 38 ordinary employees, with a 6 per cent increase and a bonus rise of 29 per cent, plus shares, while staff received an effective pay cut with a below-inflation pay deal;
  • a gender pay gap of 18.5 per cent, an increase on last year. The NUJ urged the board to support more flexible working for women, particularly when returning from maternity leave.

The event was an opportunity for NUJ officials and officers to speak to Simon Fox and board members. NEC Midlands member Di Peasey brought up the lack of parity in terms and conditions for former Local World employees, Chris Morley, Northern and Midland organiser, asked for further information on digital initiatives such as the use of artificial intelligence to promote stories to readers and a joint advertising revenue venture with other players including the Guardian and News UK.

Reach trading update

Tags: , reach, local newspapers, local news matters, agm, cuts, gender pay gap, shareholders, simon fox