Carlisle industrial action kicks off

NUJ members at the Carlisle News & Star and Cumberland News worked to rule on Monday in protest against CN Group's proposals to scrap the company's final salary pension scheme to all existing members and future employees.

A mandatory chapel meeting was held from 8.30 to 10.30am, attended by 48 members out of 55, although some were on holiday according to the union.

Members also voted to leave the office on time. Further action could take place after Thursday, when management is due to meet with ACAS.

Some members of the scheme will be worse off than others if the move goes ahead.

The company put a figure of half a million pounds for compensation to all staff, while the chapel has reaffirmed its original demand for a 20 per cent across the board pay rise. In January, the company imposed a 3 per cent pay rise.

Northern organiser and former president of the NUJ, Chris Morley (pictured above), said: "Tomorrow there is likely to be far more impact than today, and senior managers are likely to have to work into the night if they want to get the pages laid out. The knock-on will go into the week.

"The focus is now on Thursday's meeting. The ball is firmly in the company's court. It has seen the strength of feeling of the chapel and its resolve.

"If there is nothing new and worthwhile on the table, then the chapel is likely to take more action. The best way to compensate is through better pay.

"We've now got the other chapels at Barrow and Whitehaven who have got a yes vote and within the next week, certainly at Whitehaven, they will be deciding what action to take.

"The union feels very strongly about this and is willing to use some of its £1m fighting fund against the plans."

The CN Group says that due to a £7.7 million deficit in the company's pension, it plans to replace the scheme with a defined contribution scheme which is calculated depending on market performance rather than length of service.

Robin Burgess, chief executive of the family-owned group, said: "All our papers have been published on time as expected."

Last month he told Press Gazette he saw no way of increasing pay. The Express and Star chapel in Wolverhampton, also a family-owned business, is in negotiations with the company over the proposals to scrap its scheme to all members.

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