Reach said last week that it was seeking to cut 450 jobs. The Reach NUJ group chapel said it was dismayed that this was the third set of mass redundancies undertaken by the company in 2023 and believed that the cull of jobs was not consistent with the company’s stated aim of commitment to quality journalism.
“With constant job insecurity feeding uncertainty for Reach journalists and their families, the evident failure of the company’s digital strategy is taking a huge toll on employees’ mental health – particularly given the hectic end of year period and the forthcoming Christmas festivities,” the chapel stated.
“This reinforces the feeling of disillusionment felt by Reach’s failure to deliver a promised fair and agreed career progression framework that would provide decent pay for the difficult job journalists do.”
It added: “NUJ reps are reporting a high degree of anger among members for the actions being undertaken by company chiefs and NUJ chapels therefore reserve the right to ballot for industrial action. All options are open.
“While publishing market conditions are difficult, the collapse of Reach’s digital income in 2023 – now expected by analysts to be £21m less than last year – is a disaster that no one in senior management is taking responsibility for.
“We note that Reach shareholders will gather [today, 15 November] for a general meeting to decide on a motion that will help provide them with annual dividends in the coming years, irrespective of trading difficulties. No such reassurances are given to Reach staff – many of whom face a bleak winter out of work.”
The Reach NUJ group chapel condemned the stewardship of the business and said it had “no confidence in the leadership of [CEO] Jim Mullen or the company’s senior leaders”.
“We strongly urge non-executive board members and shareholders to take note of this judgment and consider their position on the existing executive team in light of it.”
Reach proposed the latest reduction of its workforce as part of the cost reduction programme it announced in March.
It said last week that the job cuts would enable it “to deliver on its long term plans, while continuing to invest to drive better customer value, develop online products and grow new audiences”.
Reach publishes more than 130 brands, from national titles like the Mirror, Express, Daily Record and Daily Star, to local brands like the Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, and BelfastLive plus several recently launched US titles.
The business was previously hit by huge increases in the price of newsprint, but in July had said this was easing and that it had also broadened its newsprint supplier base for “more flexible supply”.
At the beginning of the year Reach issued a profit warning and said that 200 jobs would go across the group as part of plans to save £30m.
When the group then released its year-end results in March, it announced a further programme of cost cutting with the result that 420 jobs were at risk at that point.