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July 13, 2020

Staff pass vote of ‘no confidence’ in handling of major cuts at Reach as some employees face lower payouts

By Freddy Mayhew

Union members have passed a vote of no confidence in senior management at Mirror owner Reach over their handling of massive job cuts.

The National Union of Journalists’ Reach group chapel voted today over the way that the collective consultation process has been organised.

The union claims key details have been held back by Reach, including the exact number of jobs to be cut from at-risk departments.

The NUJ said staff are stressed by the process, which has left some in tears, as they remain in the dark about how likely it is they will lose their jobs.

Reach announced its plan to cut 550 jobs last week. The NUJ has said that figure is now up to 580 jobs. As many as 325 editorial and circulation staff are in the firing line.

The cuts come off the back of Reach’s decision to furlough nearly 1,000 staff during the Covid-19 lockdown, which has hit news businesses hard.

Among those facing redundancy, employees of Reach subsidiary Local World, which includes a number of the group’s local titles, are facing lower payouts than ex-Trinity Mirror employees.

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This is the result of so-called “legacy” terms inherited when Trinity Mirror bought out Local World in 2015 (Trinity Mirror rebranded as Reach in 2018 after buying the Express and Star titles).

One insider told Press Gazette that while the move might be legally sound, “morally it is one of those things that seems hard to justify”. They said comparative payouts for ex-Trinity Mirror staff could be as much as double those for Local World staff.

Local World staff won a battle to receive equal maternity/paternity leave and sick pay in 2017, but the inequality in redundancy pay was never resolved despite a company mantra of “one Trinity Mirror” at the time.

The NUJ has said Local World staff face “bare legal minimum redundancy terms”, while others in Reach are being offered “enhanced” packages.

Reach would not comment while the redundancy process is subject to consultation. The consultation is expected to last 45 days.

Chris Morley, Reach NUJ national coordinator, said: “Reach plc has embarked on a massive cull of its journalistic talent with more than 300 editorial roles likely to be cut in the coming weeks.

“Our members recognised some realignment to revenues was on the way after the economic collapse in the economy due to Covid-19, but the confusion sown by lack of reliable information has been devastating to members trying to understand what it will mean for them and their families.

“All the hard graft and huge flexibility shown by members to support the company at the most vulnerable time in its history look to result in P45s for many but worse, they feel they are not being shown the due respect they deserve as the company cuts its costs.

“The greatest hurt is being taken by our Local World members who are being told that they will be made redundant on the barest minimum that Britain’s biggest independent news publisher can get away with. They, understandably, feel like second class employees.

“We don’t think this is befitting for a company of the size, dominance and reputation of Reach plc and we will be talking hard and straight to management at all levels during this process about how this should change – and quickly – to preserve the good name of the company.”

Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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