Trinity Mirror has announced plans to close nine newspapers in the Midlands and axe 17 journalists’ jobs.
The move had been predicted by the NUJ which has already begun a strike ballot of its 150 members at Trinity Mirror Midlands.
There was no announcement today about the future of Birmingham-based morning title the Birmingham Post – which has an ABC circulation of just under 13,000.
The NUJ said last week that it believed Trinity was planning to take the Post weekly or twice weekly.
Independent regional press owner Chris Bullivant said last week that he would consider buying the under-threat titles.
But he has told Press Gazette yesterday that so far Trinity Mirror has declined to talk to him about selling them.
According to Trinity Mirror the changes announced today will result in 94 jobs being cut overall.
Managing director of Trinity Mirror regionals Georgina Harvey said: “These actions announced today are designed to protect our Midlands businesses and the majority of their employees. We are seeking volunteers from within affected groups in order to minimise any necessity for compulsory redundancies.
“In addition we are offering the opportunity for staff in other parts of our Midlands businesses not affected by these proposals to volunteer for redundancy.”
Trinity is proposing to close its Burton and Walsall offices and axe the following weekly newspapers: the Loughborough Trader Xtra, Lichfield Post, Tamworth Times, Burton Trader, Ashby Trader & Echo, Coalville Echo and Walsall Observer.
It is also proposing to close the Bedworth Echo and Rugby Times and merge the Solihull News and Solihull Times. Trinity is also closing niche titles the Earlsdon Blog and Farm Ad.
There are also set to be a number of potential redundancies among workers at the Fort Dunlop print site.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “For the last week Trinity Mirror managers refused to talk to staff about the changes they were planning. After accusing us of scare mongering they’ve now announced proposals that are even worse than anyone feared.
“Our members have already made their views clear about management’s refusal to be open about their plans, with calls across the Midlands for industrial action ballots.
“It’s time for the company to come clean about all its plans, including its intentions regarding the Birmingham Post and Mail. Trinity Mirror’s approach up to now has shown a disregard for staff and the Midlands communities it serves.”
NUJ Northern Organiser Chris Morley said: “If they are willing to put the discussion into the proper dispute procedure and guarantee that there will be no job losses until that procedure is exhausted then we might be able to have some serious negotiations. But I very much doubt that’s what Trinity Mirror wants. Its only real concern is how quickly it can pull out of the towns it serves and cut away at quality on its remaining titles.”