Fresh Newcastle redundancies as Trinity ups cuts target

Trinity Mirror has announced that seven jobs could go at its North East arm ncjMedia weeks after already revealing that eight editorial posts were being cut at the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

The company said it had decided to launch a review of all its titles in the region – which will see the closure of the loss-making Blyth and Cramlington Extra – in light of the “continuing economic challenges and to better position the business for the future”.

Under its proposals the company also wants to introduce new ‘production workflows’and reduce its commercial features output. A Trinity statement said: ‘The company has entered into a period of consultation with all affected staff and it is hoped that as many of the redundancies as possible can be achieved by voluntary means.”

According to the National Union of Journalists two reporters, one specialist correspondent, a photographer, a sub-editor and two chief desk editors are faced with redundancy.

The union claimed Trinity had given editorial staff until 22 August to volunteer for redundancy, and that it wants the process to end by 12 September. The NUJ said it was now investigating whether procedural rules on redundancies had been broken.

NUJ northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: ‘The hurried announcement of further job cuts at Newcastle, so soon after an earlier, painful round of redundancies, suggests something of a panic by Trinity Mirror.

‘Sacrificing jobs on the altar of the City of London is no way to run a media company and what possible explanation can the company give to the city of Newcastle about what it is doing?

‘This is a strategy that leads nowhere and at a time when newspaper companies need to show the public they have standards and responsibility to the people, Trinity Mirror is failing badly.”

News of the cuts comes weeks after the departure of editor Paul Robertson who left after seeing through the switch to overnight printing which saw the Chronicle become a morning publication. He has since been replaced by Teesside Evening Gazette editor Darren Thwaites

Last week Trinity announced a drop in revenue, which was down 2.9 per cent to £371m, and operating profit, down 23.7 per cent to £47.1m in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2010.

Its regional newspaper group reported operating profit down 36.3 per cent to £18.4m on revenue down 1.8 per cent to £149.1m. The company also confirmed it had increased its annual cost savings target by £10m to £25m for 2011, a move which raised fears that more job losses could be on the way.

The announcement of the increase in cost savings has led to NUJ calls for urgent talks to be held with the company’s board.

Trinity father of chapel Martin Shipton said: ‘The level of cuts being imposed across the group is extremely likely to damage the quality of its newspapers at a time when consumers are thinking seriously about how to spend their money.

“We realise that advertising revenue has been badly hit by the economic conditions in Britain, but current decisions have an element of panic about them. We are concerned that deep cuts of the kind already being imposed at Trinity Mirror centres like Cardiff and Newcastle will contribute to a downward spiral.

“We are aware that the group has a high level of debts and that the board is seeking to reduce the level of borrowing. We fear it may be cutting too far, too quickly. Decisions are being taken at corporate headquarters in Canary Wharf that affect our members’ livelihoods and the newspapers we work for.

‘Telling us simply to talk to our local managements is wholly inadequate when local managers have no discretion over the scale of the cuts they are expected to impose. The time has surely come when the board should discuss the group’s future strategy with the NUJ at a national level.”

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