NUJ reacts to Reach half year results
New interim figures from publisher reveal "a strong balance sheet" of £44m.
The NUJ has welcomed publication of interim results from Reach plc indicating a significant cash balance.
The union recognises the success of the company lies with the dedicated journalists and staff yet notes chief executive Jim Mullen's statement, that a significant cash generation has led to a "growing dividend" paid to shareholders. This is against a backdrop of stalled negotiations with the company, due to its failure to offer a fair pay increase to its staff.
Chris Morley, NUJ Reach national coordinator, said:
“While there are undoubtedly headwinds that the media industry is facing in relation to advertising and newsprint costs our members will be reassured by Jim Mullen’s assertion that the company has a strong balance sheet and generates significant amounts of cash.
“But they will be disappointed that this cash is being directed solely at the shareholders with £14m being given away as a half-year dividend – 4.7% up.
“There is no mention of the hugely tough environment for employees suffering from the cost of living crisis – except that some titles have appointed specialist reporters to report on it.
“Jim Mullen admits it is ‘challenging’ to recruit talent but fails to recognise that chronic poor pay in Reach is making it uncompetitive for new staff – and keeping existing quality journalists. There is an unshakeable argument that Reach must make a better pay offer if it is to avoid a damaging campaign of industrial action.”
Despite falling, the company reports significant operating profits of £47m, stating a strategic shift is driving a more profitable future.
At a meeting on 26 July, Reach answered questions on its interim results. Commenting, Chris Morley said:
“We are pleased that, in answer to a question from a City analyst this morning about the reasons for the editorial voluntary redundancy scheme, the chief executive said it was not part of a widespread restructure of the business.
“Instead, he said there were no targets or numbers being sought and it had come about as a result of requests from a number of parties internally – including those reaching retirement age.
“It is surprising that the company is devoting so much energy to something that clearly is not central to its business plans – especially given the level of anxiety this sort of thing creates among employees, particularly those starting out in their journalistic careers.
“We call on the company to come clean about the reasons for this scheme and to level with staff about what it is trying to achieve."
The NUJ is urging a return to negotiations and a fair pay package the union can present to members.