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Trinity Mirror plan to cut pension fund payments

19 March 2012

Trinity Mirror has decided to cut pension fund payments by £69 million over three years as part of a deal to refinance its £221m debt. The NUJ is calling for urgent talks with the company.

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary, has written to Vijay Vaghela, Trinity Mirror's group financial director, calling for a meeting to discuss and clarify the new arrangements.

The newspaper group, which publishes five national papers and more than 130 regional titles, has announced that it is to make cuts of a further £15 million – making a total of £120m in four years – as the group announced a 40 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £74m for 2011.

However, the NUJ is most disturbed that, having closed the final salary pension scheme last year to new accrual, the directors are now making a reduction of £69 million company contributions to the schemes.

The publisher will be cutting its annual deficit reduction payments from £33m to £10m alongside a £110m refinancing. The change comes despite the Trinity Mirror pension deficit increasing from £161m to £230m in the past year.

Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands Organiser, said:

"News that Trinity Mirror bosses have brokered a key re-financing deal for the group at the expense of cutting company contributions to the pensions schemes of loyal staff to the tune of £69m is deeply worrying. This has been done in complete secrecy, apparently away from the gaze or involvement of the pension regulator.
"The NUJ has therefore demanded urgent talks with directors to clarify the plan and wants total reassurance that the pensions of Trinity Mirror staff and former staff have not been put in any jeopardy by this move.
"The NUJ also wants details on how important the cut in pension contributions is to the overall debt restructure negotiated with American financiers and what would be the consequences should the regulator take issue with any element of the deal done with pension fund trustees."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"There are employees of Trinity Mirror who remember, and those who suffered, from the pension rip off by Robert Maxwell in the 1990s. No wonder they are worried. That is why we have to have a full discussion about what the changes will mean for our members and what the company's long-term plans on pension contributions are."

Tags: , trinity mirror, newspapers, regional newspapers, pensions