FT journalists vote for industrial action in protest over cuts to pensions following Nikkei sale

Financial Times journalists have voted in favour of taking industrial action in protest over cuts to their pension scheme brought about by the sale of the title to Nikkei.

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.

NUJ members are to meet today to decide what form the industrial action they could take.

The dispute centres around changes to the final salary scheme brought about by Nikkei’s purchase of the FT from Pearson, which is due to be completed this month.

The changes proposed by FT management will see staff changed to a new scheme costing £4m less a year to run.

FT journalists see this as a betrayal of promises made by Nikkei that they would not be financially worse off as a result of the sale.

On Monday the FT’s vice president for HR Sarah Hopkins sent an email to staff claiming that the strike threat had been suspended. This followed an agreement from Nikkei provide an extra £4m which would delay the effect of the pensions changes for at least a year.

She said: “The most important news is that staff representatives agreed to recommend that industrial action over the pensions issue would be called off while consultations continue – irrespective of the outcome of the ongoing ballot.”

However, an NUJ representative at the FT has described this email as a “singular piece of bad faith” and that no such agreement was made.

NUJ father of the chapel Steve Bird said: “This overwhelming vote shows the widespread anger over attempts to backtrack on a commitment to maintaining our pensions after the takeover.

“FT senior managers have completely lost the trust of their staff including most senior journalists. We will be seeking talks with our new owners and expect a clear commitment to make good any shortfall on our pensions."

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: "This result sends a clear and categorical message to management: hands off FT pensions. The company has sought to divide people and narrow down the debate, but it has failed. At its heart this dispute is about the promise made to all staff in the wake of the FT sale – a commitment to fairness and equivalence in future. A future that cannot be built for cheap on the back of cut price pensions.”

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