Drastic Job Cuts Announced For The Birmingham Mail

Journalists working at the Birmingham Mail have reacted with shock and anger at Trinity Mirror’s plans to slash up to 10 jobs at the title. Last week staff were told there would be a series of job cuts, which would see the news and features team merge, and the Birmingham Mail website re-branded as Birmingham Live. On Tuesday staff were told there would be additional cuts to production on top of those announced last week. The company plans remain vague and unclear but the union has estimated more than 20 per cent of editorial and production staff will be axed.

 Only last month Press Gazette reported the ABC figures showed the Birmingham Mail was among the most successful regional daily websites with a 52 per cent increase year-on-year in the average number of daily browsers online.

 The NUJ chapel at the Birmingham Mail held a meeting with members this week and have issued the following statement:

“The chapel is appalled to discover the true scale of the job losses at the Birmingham Mail. After initially refusing to announce how many of our jobs will go, we now learn the ‘small’ reduction will see nearly 20 per cent of editorial staff gone. Nobody is forcing our editor to make these drastic cuts but he has voluntarily put people’s livelihoods on the line, after telling us this project is his brainchild. To add insult to injury we remain in the dark about how this new project will look or work.

 “With the BBC’s limited presence here, this will be a further drain on journalism in our great city. Such little planning appears to have gone into this proposal for Birmingham Live that no domain has been purchased. Additionally we appear to be muscling in on the Twitter handle of a reputable Midland music reviewer @birminghamlive who has more than 12,000 followers. Our editor Marc Reeves likes to refer to the Birmingham Mail as a ‘house that’s on fire’.  There is no doubt he has poured petrol on that house this week.

 “In a cruel twist only one week after production staff were told their jobs were safe, we are told that two more jobs will be axed in a ‘separate’ national cull. This is despite an overstretched workforce with staff working double shifts and countless hours to get the newspapers completed on time. The editor’s plan for our print production team was completely undermined by this national announcement a few days later. It is disturbing that our senior management are not talking to each other when making sweeping changes to the business.

 “This operation has been run on the fumes of goodwill for too long. That goodwill has been extinguished. In light of this the Chapel has taken a vote of no confidence in the editor or the vague proposals being made. If compulsory redundancies are threatened by management on Monday, we will immediately ballot for industrial action over these forced job losses, low staffing levels and high workloads.”

 Jane Kennedy, NUJ Northern and Midlands assistant organiser, said: “While discussions with the editor and the NUJ have already taken place; the clarity of what is proposed beyond everyone doing everything remains opaque. It is difficult for members to have confidence in the discussions when it is clear that during our last meeting with the editor he was aware that further job cuts would be announced within 24 hours. This kind of secrecy only undermines trust and confidence, and can be seen in the Chapel vote. We urge Marc Reeves to meet with us again early next week and provide a detailed plan of the proposed new structure and a strategy that will avoid any compulsory redundancies.”

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