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Newsquest u-turn on pension promise

9 August 2010

The NUJ has accused Newsquest of breaking pensions promises to staff and called on the company to "think again" after management said it planned to close the final-salary pension scheme.

This scheme, which is already restricted to existing staff, was changed in 2007 when the company increased members' contributions, saying if they paid more they would protect the scheme for the future – now the company plans to axe it.

The NUJ has asked the company to begin national consultations on any changes. Union members are to meet next week to co-ordinate their response.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said:

"This is appalling news for dedicated and hard-working journalists at Newsquest. The company should keep its hands off members' pensions.
"Hard-working staff deserve a decent retirement and Newsquest should honour its previous commitments. We call on them to think again."

Chris Morley, NUJ northern and Midlands organiser, said:

"We are appalled that the company chose to sneak out an announcement of this magnitude to so many of its employees in such a manner.
"Our members will have many questions to ask about why this is necessary now when, just three years ago, management put up members' pension contributions by 60 per cent – from 6 per cent of salary to 10 per cent – to, in the company's words, 'Produce what is hoped to be a long-term sustainable solution for members of the scheme that avoids the scheme being closed to future accrual'.
"We need to know what has caused the scheme's deficit to apparently double in that short time when employees were making such sacrifices to keep the scheme open."

Bob Smith, father of the NUJ's Newsquest group chapel and father of the chapel at Newsquest Bradford, said:

"Journalists' pay was frozen for two years after the company tore up pay agreements without consultation. Now, NUJ members face losing thousands of pounds in retirement as their pensions are effectively frozen too.
"Sadly, the company's commitment to its staff has not matched that of its workers to Newsquest and journalism. It continues to earn handsome profits for its shareholders while treating its main assets – its employees – with disdain.
"The company should return the loyalty its staff have shown and reconsider this short-sighted decision."

Tags: , Newsquest, pensions, newspapers, regional newspapers, bradford