Associated Press staff vote for strike action

Journalists at Associated Press have voted ‘overwhelmingly’in favour of strike action, according to the National Union of Journalists.

As reported by Press Gazette last month, the ballot was taken in response to AP’s decision to close its final salary pension scheme.

The NUJ and broadcasting union BECTU said they had asked the company for further consultation on a ‘fair and decent pension provision for all’and that the failure to reach an agreement with management ‘has led to the strong mandate for action”.

Among NUJ members at Associated Press Television News (APTN) there was a 100 per cent cent vote for strike action and at AP there was a 87.5 per cent approval. The turnout was 79.5 per cent at APTN and 80 per cent at AP.

The unions said they told management that members in the final salary (defined benefit) schemes ‘stood to suffer significant financial detriment in retirement if the changes are made, while the existing defined contribution scheme does not even meet the recommended level for a decent pension set by the charitable Pensions Policy Institute”.

NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said: ‘The unions were prepared to negotiate a settlement to this dispute. The dedicated staff at AP and APTN do not deserve the poor pension deal on offer.

‘A world class company can and should do better. The NUJ and Bectu will now consult with members on how to proceed. The overwhelming support for action among our members speaks volumes for the anger this dispute has caused. The management needs to take note.”

AP media relations director Paul Colford said: “After receiving acceptance, in principle, from the Trustees of the UK pension plans to freeze its defined benefit pension plan effective June 30, 2012, AP is now in a 60-day consultation period with staff. The change will affect about 200 employees.

Like other news organizations and businesses in recent years, AP can no longer offer a defined benefits program as it moves forward amid global economic challenges and continued disruption in the media business.

“AP is an independent news organization and receives no government or other support. It is solely reliant on the licensing of its content to support its staff in their newsgathering mission. AP’s defined benefits program in the United States was replaced by a defined contribution plan a year ago, in June of 2011.

“We expect to meet our service obligations as usual, with no disruptions.”

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