Financial Times staff who are part of the National Union of Journalists have passed a vote of no confidence in chief executive John Ridding, accusing him of having “lost touch with both staff and FT values”.
The unanimous vote from the NUJ’s FT Group Chapel yesterday is the latest action in an ongoing dispute over high executive pay, transparency and governance at the newspaper group.
About 60 per cent of all FT journalists are members of the NUJ, Press Gazette understands.
Ridding agreed to pay back a £510,000 pay rise this summer after staff complained that his £2.6m pay package “made a mockery of any concept of fairness”.
It came ahead of a series of demands by the Chapel, calling on the FT to “act urgently” to improve staff pay and offer full transparency over directors’ salaries.
Yesterday’s vote followed a town hall-style speech by Ridding in which he “failed to acknowledge or even address serious staff concerns over these matters”, the chapel said.
A broadcast of the speech, so staff not in the room could hear it, was cut off before Ridding took questions and these have yet to be made available online, the chapel claimed.
It said this was part of a “suppression of the debate” over Ridding’s pay awards and demonstrated a “complete disregard for transparency” within the company.
In a statement, the chapel said it applauded the news, “gained in consultations” that a working group has chosen to use the latest UK Corporate Governance Code as a basis for a future FT code of governance.
But it added: “The UK code depends on the existence of non-executive directors to ensure governance and transparency standards are maintained.
“In the absence of non-execs, we call on the FT to allow elected members of staff to sit on the board to perform the important function of scrutinising board decisions and holding management and exec directors to account.”
The FT has yet to respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this year, the chapel claimed Ridding’s pay had climbed by 63 per cent since the FT was bought by Japanese media company Nikkei from Pearson in 2015.
Members also claimed the FT was told to make about £2.5m in savings on its editorial budget last year, which resulted in the loss of 20 editorial jobs.
Picture: Reuters/Benjamin Beavan