By Jodi Mullen
Journalists at the Trinity Mirror group voted 95% in favour of industrial action short of a strike, including work-to-rule, in an National Union of Journalists chapel poll on Friday. Of these ballots, 85% also supported action including strikes.
The proposed industrial action comes after Trinity Mirror announced a “single integrated editorial production operation”, which would see production resources for both of the Glasgow-based newspapers merged.
The publisher hopes to reduce costs amidst falling advertising revenue and a more competitive newspaper market.
Staff are threatening a 24-hour walkout from midnight on Friday which will disrupt the production on this week’s Sunday Mail and may also affect football coverage in next Monday’s Daily Record.
The strike will be preceded by several days of work-to-rule.
However, Trinity Media remains committed to the proposed reorganisation of the company. Mark Hollinshead, Managing Director of the Sunday Mail and Daily Record, told Edinburgh Napier News that there has been “absolutely no change in our position”.
Angela Austin, Assistant Organiser of the NUJ’s Scottish Office, explained the NUJ’s involvement in the dispute.
“Staff at the Sunday Mail and Daily Record voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a chapel ballot on Friday. The NUJ informed Trinity Mirror of the results immediately. We have made sure the publisher is fully aware of the implications of the vote.”
The ballot at the Trinity Mirror titles follows a similar vote in NUJ chapels at Manchester Evening News and Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers over plans to cut 78 jobs and close weekly newspaper offices in Northern England.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, has spoken out strongly against the threatened job losses and has expressed solidarity with the union’s members.
“Media owners have made hundreds of millions of pounds for after year. Now they are ripping the heart out of papers that are much appreciated by their communities. It’s all about maintaining unrealistically high profit margins.
“From Stockport to Stirling NUJ members, readers and community leaders are banding together to stand up for journalism.
“The NUJ is totally behind these campaigns and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our members in Greater Manchester and Scotland as they fight for their jobs and the souls of their newspapers.”
The NUJ’s position is at odds with the views of media finance expert Richard Wachman. Mr Wachman claimed in his column in this Sunday’s Observer that merging was perhaps to only way to ensure the survival of regional newspapers.
Competition law has traditionally prevented large scale mergers and acquisitions in the newspaper industry. However, experts claim that multiple titles using the same editorial and production resources would allow publishers to reduce overheads and produce more cost-effective and profitable newspapers.
Trinity Mirror has been one of the hardest hit companies in the recent slump in the newspaper market. The publisher has laid off more than 1,400 employees since the beginning of 2008 and has seen ad revenue plunge by over 30% in less than two months.
This week the group also announced that four regional weekly freesheets would cease publication. No job losses are expected, with staff being redeployed to other areas within the organisation.