THE National Union of Journalists (NUJ) demanded guarantees today that no jobs will be lost after billionaire newspaper owner Richard Desmond sold the Express group to Trinity Mirror for £126.7 million.
Trinity Mirror announced it had bought the daily and Sunday newspapers and OK! magazine from Northern & Shell, which is owned by Mr Desmond.
The announcement said the takeover would lead to £20 million of savings by 2020, with most accomplished by next year.
Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox told Radio 4’s Today programme that these would be largely backroom savings and that the titles would retain their editorial independence.
But a spokesman for the Express NUJ chapel — which has branded Mr Desmond’s “Britain’s greediest billionaire” for repeatedly refusing to give staff pay rises — called for “cast-iron guarantees” that there would be no job cuts or merging of editorial resources to ensure that the titles and websites “retain separate voices.”
The Mirror titles’ union chapel echoed the call for assurances on jobs.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “After many years of underinvestment and one pay increase in the past decade, journalists working for Richard Desmond have been desperate for a new owner to provide the resources needed to help increase the readership and the success of the titles.
“However, the NUJ is concerned that Trinity Mirror, with its long record of making cuts to its newspapers, will not be the knight on the white horse they were hoping for.
“Therefore, we will be seeking guarantees that the deal will not result in redundancies and that the titles will be able to thrive.
“We expect to be involved fully in consultations on the changes planned for these titles.
“As the government starts an inquiry into the sustainability of the press, this takeover will have a dramatic effect on the national newspaper landscape and therefore the deal must not result in the closure of titles, loss of independence of titles or choice for readers.”
The deal still needs the approval of Trinity Mirror shareholders and may be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority on media plurality grounds.
As well as the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People and, in Scotland, the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, the company owns more than 200 local and regional newspapers, including the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Mail and Bristol Post.
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