FT journalists vote 3 to 1 for strike action

The Financial Times is facing the prospect of a possible walkout by journalists after they voted three to one in favour of strike action, according the NUJ.

The strike ballot was held in response to a management offer to increase pay by 2 per cent but retain a third of the money set aside for this year’s increase to use as merit pay for staff retention at the managing editor’s discretion.

NUJ members working at the paper condemned the offer as “deeply divisive” and an attack on the collective bargaining arrangement contained within the FT house agreement.

The strike threat comes on the same day the FT Group announced a 27 per cent rise in operating profit in 2011 and a 6 per cent rise in revenue.

The union has also produced Companies House figures which they say show FT chief executive John Ridding took home £928,000 in 2010, an increase of 95 per cent in the space of four years.

Steve Bird, NUJ father of chapel at the FT Group, said: ‘Voting to strike is very big step to take, especially for committed journalists.

‘The size of the majority is a sign of the anger at management’s intransigence and the unfairness of the pay deal.”

NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said: ‘The union remains open to meaningful negotiations and suggests that FT management reconsider their response to our repeated requests to meet in order to break the deadlock.

‘If they will not, it now seems inevitable that NUJ members will be left with no other option but to take strike action if they are to achieve a fair pay rise. In the context of several years of below-inflation pay rises for our members whilst executive reward at the company continues to soar, it is hardly surprising that FT staff have reached the end of their tether.”

67 per cent of NUJ members at the paper voted.

A spokesperson for the FT said: “We view the vote for industrial action and the risk of disruption unwarranted and unreasonable. The Financial Times has continued to invest in its editorial operations because we strongly believe that quality journalism is at the heart of our global success.

“The proposed salary increase of 3.5 per cent – with 2-2.5 per cent for all editorial staff and 1 per cent for merit, plus a bonus, compares favourably with the rest of the industry and we have avoided any compulsory redundancies at a time when news organisations around the world are facing exceptional challenges.

“We have strong contingency plans in place to ensure business as usual at the FT and there will be no adverse effect on the quality of our coverage.”

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