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FT journalists to escalate action as pay talks fail

14 March 2012

Journalists at the Financial Times (FT) have voted to escalate their action over pay following a breakdown in talks with management.

At a packed chapel meeting, NUJ members voted for a three-hour walk out next week (Thursday, 22 March) if an agreement with management cannot be reached. Talks between the two sides at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service have, to date, failed.

A two-hour mandatory meeting of the NUJ FT chapel passed the following two motions, the first unanimously, the second with one vote against:

"This chapel has no confidence in the senior management of the Financial Times over its failure to ensure transparency in its dealings and for the contempt shown to staff throughout the pay negotiations."

"The chapel expresses its deep disappointment at the failure of management to uphold the principles of the Financial Times and its long history of high-quality journalism. FT management claim their real-terms pay cut for staff, combined with excessive bonuses for executives, is fair. We call on management to back their words with action and submit to binding arbitration at ACAS. Pending that, we will hold a three-hour mandatory meeting next Thursday to decide on the next step as part of our continuing programme of industrial action."

NUJ members have voted by three to one to take strike action over the pay issue. Marjorie Scardino, CEO at Pearson, which owns the FT, described the pay offer as "3.5%". But the deal will give most staff 2% (a cut in real terms because of inflation), with a third of the money set aside for this year's increase to be used as merit pay or for staff retention at the managing editor's discretion.

Steve Bird, Father of the FT Group Chapel, said:

"By justifying vast salaries for FT executives and keeping a large part of the pay award back for 'star' employees, FT managers are undermining both the team that produces the newspaper and the principles and high standards on which the paper is based. I am immensely proud of the stand the chapel is taking which is as much about integrity and fairness as it is about a cut-price pay offer."

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary, said:

"The NUJ is backing the action of FT journalists and will also be doing all we can to persuade the management to see sense and offer a fair distribution of the available money. With the FT's latest figures showing a 27 per cent profit increase at the group and the highest circulation in the paper's history, there is no justification for this unfair pay award."

Tags: , newspapers, financial times, industrial action