Financial Times staff settle for 3% pay rise

By Dominic Ponsford

Editorial
staff on the Financial Times have accepted a three per cent pay rise
along with a guaranteed minimum rate of £30,000 for any qualified
full-time journalist on the paper.

The deal was unanimously agreed by NUJ members at the paper and
comes ahead of a round of voluntary redundancies expected in the next
few months.

According to FT sources, between 20 and 30
journalists are expected to take redundancy, most of which are early
retirements, out of a worldwide journalistic headcount of 350.

NUJ members are said to be satisfied with the deal in view of the paper’s lack of profitability in 2004.

The
Financial Times lost £32m in 2003 as a result of the advertising
recession and losses for 2004 are predicted to be £12m. Owner Pearson
has, however, revealed that the paper was in profit for the last
quarter of 2004.

Editor Andrew Gowers wrote to staff in December
to see if anyone was interested in taking redundancy and the current
round of job cuts are understood to be part of that process.

Cost-cutting
measures in recent months have included lowering the frequency of
weekly media supplement Creative Business and dropping the sports page.

Editorial staff numbers have been cut by more than 60 since 2002 when a freeze on hiring was put in place.

Although the freeze is still said to be broadly in place, an FT spokesman said that some exceptions were being made.

The
pay deal is an improvement on last year’s rise of two per cent which
was only increased to three per cent after staff took their dispute to
ACAS.

Elsewhere in the national press pay negotiations continue
at the Express titles, where the offer stands at 3.3 per cent, and at
the Mirror titles, where the deal on the table is 2.5 per cent.
Negotiations are also continuing at the Independent titles where NUJ
members have unanimously rejected a three per cent pay offer.

Journalists
at Quantum Business Media, which publishes The Publican , Press Gazette
and Media Week, recently settled for a three per cent increase.

According
to the Office for National Statistics, inflation is currently running
at 3.5 per cent and average earnings increases are 4.4 per cent.

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