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Johnston Press to close final salary pension scheme

14 April 2010

The Johnston Press Group has announced that its final salary pension scheme is to close from the end of June. The move is likely to force nearly a thousand employees onto a money purchase scheme.

The final salary scheme was closed to new employees several years ago. The group is blaming rising costs for the closure.

At the same time, journalists working for the group in Sunderland are being told that they must travel 250 miles each day to work in Sheffield if they want to keep their jobs. NUJ colleagues working at the group's Scarborough Evening News have already been ordered to Sheffield.

The Sunderland journalists have voted to oppose any attempt to force through the management plan by compulsory redundancies. Many of the journalists had moved to Sunderland from outlying offices only last summer and the group now expects them to turn their lives upside down again just nine months later.

An industrial action ballot at Johnston Press titles this month will increase pressure on the company to negotiate with the NUJ rather than imposing the Atex content management system with inadequate staffing and training. The union has warned that Atex threatens jobs and the quality of local journalism, a view being shared by readers and media commentators.

Chris Morley, NUJ northern and midlands organiser, said:

"Although our members knew that the Atex system was coming to the North East, the scale of the impact on jobs and lack of time to come to terms with the implications has shocked them to the core.
"How Johnston Press can proclaim with a straight face that they 'publish local newspapers and internet sites produced by local teams of people' when they shift production of newspapers more than 160 miles south from Northumberland to Yorkshire is beyond me. More importantly, we fear it will be beyond the local communities who will undoubtedly pick up on the fact that much of their local paper is fashioned outside the North East.
"Johnston Press has the Atex juggernaut rolling throughout the group and expects its journalists to be panicked into deciding in a matter of a few weeks whether to uproot completely, apply for lower paid redeployment or leave with a redundancy package in despair at what will remain. Our chapel in Sunderland has made it crystal clear that they will oppose totally anyone being forced or bullied out the door."

Tags: , newspapers, johnston press, pensions, sunderland, sheffield, scarborough evening news, atex, scarborough