Mirror, Express and Mail owners cut staff wages amid virus impact

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Two of the UK’s biggest publishers have cut wages for staff in the latest round of measures taken by the industry to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), which owns the Mail, Metro and the i newspaper titles, has imposed a pay cut on all staff earning over £40,000 a year.

And at Reach, owner of the Mirror and Express papers, said all staff will see a pay cut of at least 10% due to heavy falls in advertising and circulation.

General Stock – Newspapers
The Daily Express was bought by Reach, then called Trinity Mirror, in 2018 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

But in an internal memo, bosses said: “We have no doubt that we will weather this storm and, in due course, bounce back stronger than ever.”

All staff earning above £40,000 will see pay cut from between 1% and 26% depending on size of salary, and will be given free shares in DMGT that can be sold on in the future.

Workers below the threshold will be able to buy into the share scheme, the memo added.

Signed by chairman Lord Rothermere and chief executive Paul Zwillenberg, the letter said: “It is our sincere hope that most of you will hang on to at least some of your shares in the long term and share in the continued success of our company.”

At Reach, the company’s board, along with some members of its most senior editorial and management team, will take an immediate 20% pay cut.

Meanwhile, one-fifth of employees will be furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Protection Scheme, with wages topped up to be a 10% pay cut.

Reach suspended its financial guidance for the current financial year as there “continues to be uncertainty around the severity and length of the crisis”.

Last month, the firm said it had traded in line with expectations for the first 12 weeks of the financial year but had begun to feel the impact of the outbreak.

The company said it has also requested discussions around a deferment of current contributions to all the group pension funds and decided it will no longer propose a dividend for the past year.

Reach said the measures have been executed swiftly and efficiently so “all print and digital publications continue to be produced without interruption, delivering high-quality editorial content at this crucial time”.

Jim Mullen, chief executive of Reach, said: “These are very challenging times and I would like to thank all our colleagues at Reach for their support and commitment.

“It remains difficult to predict the duration and long-term impact of the crisis on our sector so it is key we take proactive measures now on cost to protect jobs and the Reach business for the long term.”

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