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Trinity Mirror directors pocket thousands as job cuts bite

28 September 2009

Trinity Mirror's three executive directors have been rewarded with free share-handouts worth more than £800,000, according to disclosures made to the London Stock Exchange. At the same time, they have imposed job cuts and a pay freeze on the group's employees.

The share awards to Sly Bailey, chief executive; Vijay Vaghela, finance director; and Paul Vickers, group legal director, have been unearthed by NUJ members at Media Wales in Cardiff. The members are about to take part in a strike ballot following an announcement last Thursday of 13.2 editorial redundancies at the Trinity Mirror-owned subsidiary.

Sly Bailey wrote to all staff last November telling them there would be no pay rise in 2009 because of poor trading conditions and the group's difficulty in meeting interest payments on borrowings and making pension contributions. She said the pay freeze applied to all employees, including directors, adding that no bonuses would be paid either.

It has now emerged that on 3 April this year, Sly Bailey was awarded 270,270 Trinity Mirror shares at no cost to herself. At the time, shares were trading at 28.5p, so the value of the chief executive's handout was £77,026.95. Since then, however, the share price has risen, and when trading closed on Friday it stood at £1.60. That meant her free shares had rocketed in value to £432,432.

Vijay Vaghela was awarded 123,964 shares on the same day. Over the same perio,d they rose in value from £35,329.74 to £198,342.40. Equally, Paul Vickers' 108,108 shares grew in value from £30,810.78 to £172,972.80 on Friday.

On top of this, the three directors exercised an option to "buy" more shares on 29 June this year. Sly Bailey "bought" 28,898 shares, Vijay Vaghela 15,568 shares and Paul Vickers 12,060 shares.

In fact, according to the London Stock Exchange website, there was no purchase price, and the shares were handed over to the trio free of charge. On the same day, Sly Bailey sold 11,755 of her new shares, picking up £5,995.05. Vijay Vaghela received £3,241.56 after selling 6,356 shares, while Paul Vickers pocketed £2,516.85 after selling 4,935 shares.

Martin Shipton, NUJ father of the Media Wales chapel, said:

"It beggars belief that, at a time when these directors have been slashing jobs and freezing the pay of those left behind, they have been rewarded so handsomely in this way.
"Nothing was said about these share handouts at the time of the pay freeze, when much was made of the fact that it applied to directors too. This is an insult to every Trinity Mirror employee, and especially to those whose jobs are on the line."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, said:

"Trinity Mirror's directors are making themselves a fortune thanks to the efforts of the company's over-worked journalists and other staff.
"It is outrageous that while most employees are facing a wage freeze and job cuts, with more work and stress for those still employed, the company's least productive workers – the directors – are pocketing a fortune.
"No wonder people are angry. The NUJ will support any Trinity Mirror journalists who want to fight for jobs – including those in Wales who are balloting for strike action."

Tags: , newspapers, trinity mirror, executive pay, pay freeze, cuts, sly bailey, bonuses, shares