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MPs back Trinity Mirror journalists 21 November 2008

Posted by steve1917 in disputes, NUJ.
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Members of Parliament have rallied to the support of journalists facing pay cuts and job losses at the UK’s biggest newspaper publishing company.

Trinity Mirror announced a year long pay freeze yesterday. They have already cut more than 1,200 jobs in the past year and closed 44 titles.

Austin Mitchell, Labour MP for Great Grimsby, a former television journalist and chair of the NUJ parliamentary group, has tabled an Early Day Motion – a parliamentary petition – condemning the pay freeze.

He said: “The answer to bad trading conditions isn’t to reduce the quality of newspapers by firing journalists or cutting pay. Trinity Mirror has already axed 1,200 jobs. Enough is enough. Stop the rot and boost the quality. Don’t attack the journalists.”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Ashok Kumar, has tabled another Early Day Motion deploring the moves by Trinity Mirror to close district offices -including one in Guisborough in his constituency -and to make a number of editorial staff redundant from the Middlesbrough based Evening Gazette.

He said: “These moves will rebound on the paper.  The staff based in the district offices are the eyes and ears of the paper in areas where there is often a lot of news generated.

“These closures would mean that local news may end up unreported, and which in turn would mean a blander paper, and one that could lose readership as a result.

“The Early Day Motion, which has already generated a degree of support from fellow MPs is asking Trinity Mirror at the highest level to think again about their plans for costs cutting, and in particular about plans to close their district offices.”

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and secretary of the NUJ parliamentary group, said: “During this time of economic hardship, Trinity Mirror should be doing all it can to protect the working conditions of journalists and maintain its skill base in order to be able to continue to provide the important service our communities rely upon.

“Driving journalists into financial hardship is not the solution to any of the problems the company faces and brings into question Trinity Mirror’s future commitment to providing local news.”

Trinity Mirror owns two of Wales’s morning newspapers, the evening paper in Cardiff and a string of weeklies across the principality.

Plaid Cymru MP for Caernarfon and a member of the NUJ parliamentary group, Hywel Williams said: “Trinity Mirror currently owns a large part of the Welsh newspaper industry, both morning and weekly titles. This announcement therefore will be a bitter blow a large proportion of Welsh journalists.

“It is unacceptable that one company can have such a substantial effect on journalism in Wales. This announcement bodes ill for individual journalists, the profession as a whole and more widely for pluralism in Welsh newspapers.”

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North and a member of the NUJ parliamentary group, said: “Journalists at their best are the unsung heroes of democracy. Properly paid and effective local journalists are the life blood of local democracy and information provision.

‘This action by Trinity Mirror does not show support and respect for the people who have kept the company going. Inflation is still a problem, bills have to be paid, and jobs have to be retained. I support the NUJ.”

National Union of Journalists workplace chapels are meeting around the country to decide their reaction to the announcement.

20 November 2008 (nuj.org.uk)

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