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FT vote to ballot for action over pensions robbery

© nuj

21 October 2015

Journalists at the Financial Times have voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action over their company’s “pensions robbery”.

The motion condemned the newspaper’s new owner, Nikkei, and FT management for failing to honour promises over maintaining equivalent terms of employment following the takeover from Pearson’s and proposals to take at least £4 million a year from pension funds to pay for rent and other costs.

Steve Bird, FoC of the NUJ chapel, said the mood at the FT was the angriest he had ever seen. He said:

"Staff are in open revolt over plans to cut the cost of pensions by at least £4m a year. Hundreds of senior staff will see their pensions cut by up to a half in order to pay rent on the FT building. Whatever financial constraints Nikkei have placed on the FT are being passed on to the journalists. We remain committed to negotiations with FT managers but staff will not accept anything less than the fair and equivalent terms promised by executives on the day the sale to Nikkei was announced.”

He said the company was trying to force through serious changes to the pension scheme by the end of November and this could leave staff in a “pensions limbo”.

The FT chapel, @ftnuj, posted on Twitter a portion of a document from the HR department showing the extent of the planned cuts

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:

“From day one this has been a fundamentally flawed consultation process, formally excluding members of the defined contributions scheme and only putting forward proposals through a narrow prism of market comparison. The FT, Nikkei and Pearson badly need to find a way out of the corner they have boxed themselves into.
"Put simply, this smash and grab raid on pensions must stop; existing schemes should continue until agreement has been reached over future pension provision for all. It would be foolish if the timetable for the sale turned what should be the positive start of a new era for Nikkei into a major public dispute.”

The motion passed was:

“The FT chapel condemns Nikkei and FT managers for failing to honour promises made to maintain fair and equivalent terms of employment in the wake of the takeover.
"Proposals to take at least £4m a year from funds allocated to our pensions and use the money to pay rent and admin costs amount to no less than robbery.
"In light of the lack of compromise on this and the likelihood that the takeover will be complete by the end of November, we instruct NUJ reps to begin the process of balloting for industrial action.
"NUJ negotiators should insist as a minimum requirement that total FT contributions to employee pensions should remain the same under Nikkei as they are now.
"The FT chapel congratulates the pensions reps for their work so far in clarifying and working to improve the terms proposed for new pension schemes in the face of an absurdly short time frame.
"We urge reps to call on Nikkei and Pearson to find an alternative to management proposals to put FT staff into auto-enrolment pensions or into an unresolved DC scheme should negotiations not be complete when the deal is finalised."

Tags: , national newspapers, financial times, pensions, industrial action, ballot, nikkei