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Summer of action threatened over pensions at Associated Press

6 June 2012

Staff at Associated Press (AP) and Associated Press Television News (APTN) have announced two days of strikes. The action could herald the start of a summer of action following the press agency's proposal to close its final salary scheme and failure to offer sustainable quality pension provision for its staff.

The NUJ and BECTU unions have not ruled out taking action during the Olympics.

The first set of strikes will take place from 7am on Monday, June 11 to 7am Tuesday, June 12 and 7am on Saturday 16 to 7am Sunday, June 17.

The NUJ and BECTU are campaigning for fair and decent pension provision for all at the company. The company has proposed closing the two existing defined benefit schemes and replacing them with the existing inadequate defined contribution scheme.

Alternative union proposals have either been rejected or not responded to, putting the company in danger of failing to carry out a meaningful consultation. A request to extend the consultation period by a month was also turned down.

As a result among NUJ members at APTN there was a 100% cent vote for strike action and at AP 87.5%. The turnout was 79.5% at APTN and 80% at AP. There was an 88% vote for strike action among BECTU members at APTN.

Members in the final salary (defined benefit) schemes stand to suffer significant financial detriment in retirement if the changes are made, while the existing defined contribution scheme does not even meet the recommended level for a decent pension set by the charitable Pensions Policy Institute.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, and Gerry Morrissey, BECTU general secretary, said in a joint statement:

"Members have made it clear this is not a short term dispute. They are committed to improving pension provision at AP for the long term. The unions want to negotiate a settlement to this dispute. The dedicated staff at AP and APTN do not deserve the poor replacement pension on offer with a much reduced employer contribution.
"A world class company, can and should do better by its staff in terms of sustainable pension provision. The mood of the staff is very determined and unless common sense prevails on the management side industrial action will take place next week."

Tags: , aptn, ap, pensions, dispute, bectu, broadcasting, news agencies