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HUNDREDS of jobs are to be slashed at Reach newspaper titles in what unions described today as “a shock and body blow” to staff.
The Daily Mirror and Daily Express publisher plans to axe 550 staff — 12 per cent of its workforce — in a bid to save £35 million a year following a drop in advertising.
Reach chief executive Jim Mullen praised the “heroic effort” of staff throughout the coronavirus.
But Mr Mullen, who together with Reach’s chief financial officer Simon Fuller enjoyed almost £300,000 in bonuses before furloughing nearly 1,000 employees in March, said that “due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue.”
He went on to say that in order “to meet these challenges […] we have completed plans to transform the business and are ready to begin the process of implementation.
“Regrettably, these plans involve a reduction in our workforce and we will ensure all impacted colleagues are treated with fairness and respect throughout the forthcoming consultation process.”
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said that the news was a “poor reward for hard-working journalists who have shown great flexibility and adaptability to uproot from their offices to switch to working from home, with all the difficulties that have arisen, to then find there is no job for them in a redundancy process that they have now been pitched in to.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Today’s announcement is a shock and body blow for our members in Reach who have, in the words of the chief executive today, shown ‘heroic’ efforts to sustain the company through the massive problems arising from a pandemic lockdown over the last three months.”
Details of the job cuts came as Reach revealed that group’s revenues slumped 27.5 per cent in its second quarter to June 28 — dropping as much as 30.5 per cent in April, blaming the sharp decrease in newspaper sales amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Unite national officer for the media industry Louisa Bull said: “This is just another example of a company that was financially sound before the pandemic being impacted drastically over the last three months.”
She said the union would be working with Reach to support its members in the commercial areas on both the national and regional titles.
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