Journalists at a group of weekly newspaper titles in the Midlands yesterday staged a brief walk-out to highlight concerns about the future of their jobs and offices.
The walk-out happened at Trinity Mirror‘s Midlands Weekly Media group.
Journalists across Trinity Mirror Midlands voted in favour of strike action last month in protest at up to 65 editorial jobs cuts across titles including the Birmingham Post, the Birmingham Mail and the Coventry Telegraph.
Press Gazette understands that journalists on the daily titles have now stepped back from the threat of strike action after management agreed to avoid compulsory redundancies.
But staff on the weekly titles are reserving the right to go on strike.
The one-hour walk-out between midday and 1pm yesterday came on the last day staff were legally allowed to take industrial action because it was four weeks after the ballot result.
According to the NUJ, its members at the titles now have a further four weeks in which they could take industrial action without another ballot.
The union says it has 14 members out of about 20 journalists working at Trinity Mirror offices in Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield, Walsall, Stafford, Tamworth and Cannock.
Journalists were concerned that some of these offices may be closed and that some staff may be asked to work in Birmingham.
After the walkout, Tony Lennox, editorial director Midland Weekly Media, confirmed that branch offices were to close.
He said: ‘The restructuring of the editorial operation in the Midlands is an extensive reorganisation involving more than 200 new roles.
‘The selection process is necessarily open and transparent. Many journalists on the weekly titles in the Midlands have successfully applied for new roles in the daily structure.
“Yesterday we announced a number of branch office closures. This will affect just five reporters in our North Midlands titles in Lichfield, Tamworth and Sutton Coldfield.
“They will be relocated to our new headquarters in Fort Dunlop or the Cannock office, depending on their preference.
“Most will also have the option of remote working from home when the new editorial system is rolled out to the weeklies”.
NUJ north of England organiser Chris Morley said: ‘This restructure was announced on 19 August and here we are in the middle of October and the picture is no clearer. This is people’s livelihoods.
“Staff have been led to believe that offices will be shutting and they want to know what their options are.”