FT journalists suspend strike threat after 'short-term' concession from management on pensions

Journalists at the FT have backed away from the threat of holding strike action on the day Nikkei completes its take-over of the paper at the end of this month.

This follows a promise to delay proposed cuts to pensions benefits for those in the FT final salary scheme.

FT management had been proposing to cut £4m a year from the FT final salary pension scheme, but this move has now been delayed for a year. The change has come about because FT staff have to leave the pension scheme of current owner Pearson because of the sale.

The following motion was passed  by the FT Group NUJ meeting yesterday afternoon:

"The near 92 per cent ‘yes’ to strike action in today's ballot result shows the strength of the anger felt by FT editorial staff over pensions cuts and highlights the unity between all members, whether they are in the final pay or defined contribution pension sections.

“We note management's proposal to restore £4m to the pension budget for one year but we believe that a longer term solution remains vital to bring security to FT Group journalists.

“We welcome this short-term concession but pensions are long-term benefits and we would look to management to come forward with a substantive offer that gives staff the equivalence they were promised at the start of the process.

“In light of the climate of serious mistrust of FT executives over broken promises, we will keep the option of industrial action on the table. We call on Nikkei to join us round the negotiating table as a way of breaking the log-jam.”

Some 272 journalists at the FT are members of the National Union of Journalists, and according to the union, this  represents just over half the editorial work force. Of these, 66 per cent took part in the ballot.

The FT press office disputed the union staff figure and said there are 600 journalists on the FT.

An FT spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that the NUJ has not agreed to withdraw the threat of industrial action when there are ongoing consultations and sincere efforts to work toward a negotiated agreement underway, including a significantly improved pensions offer to staff.

"While we do not take lightly any discontent amongst our employees, we must find the right balance between individual benefits (those who voted in the ballot represent a small minority of staff) and the sustainable financial future of the FT, for the benefit of all."

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