ITN pensions walkout will be 'difficult to fill'

ITN will have “difficulty filling the roster” if planned industrial action goes ahead next week, according to insiders.

Two thirds of the news provider’s NUJ members plan to walk out on 16 January if ITN does not change its position on proposed changes to its pension scheme. An ITN insider told Press Gazette: “[The strike] would significantly affect ITN’s output, and they will have difficulty filling the roster.

“There are senior journalists who are willing not to work in protest at the changes that ITN is proposing.” The broadcaster has proposed to increase the normal retirement age from 60 to 65.

The pension accrual rate will be standardised at 1/60th of final salary per year of service for all staff — at present, around a third of staff accrue their pension at 1/50th per year.

ITN also intends to cap future pension rises to 2.5 per cent per year or the retail prices index, whichever is the lower. The current arrangement is 5 per cent or RPI.

The unions have agreed to a lower accrual rate and to increase their own pension contributions by more than two per cent and put forward a counter proposal to the ITN scheme, which is currently being considered by management.

NUJ broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin said: “This is an excellent ballot result from a very solid turnout and reflects the determination of our members at ITN not to sit back and see their pension whittled away.

An ITN insider said part of the decision to strike was due to the way the consultation process was conducted. The source said: “The company decided what it was going to do with the pensions and then went into what they called a consultation process, where they listened to objections, supposedly. “But they didn’t listen to any objections — they were always going to what they said they were going to do and the consultation process was pretend, a mock-up and a sham.” An ITN spokeswoman denied the allegations that the consultation was a sham and said staff had been given plenty of opportunity to share their views with management.

She said: “During the consultation process we received a lot of feedback from staff — we had email [addresses] that people could come through on. One of the suggestions that came up was for member contributions. “That wasn’t in our original proposal but we thought if that was something people wanted to consider we should put it to a vote and see how many want edto do that. “It is completely untrue to say we didn’t listen, because we did — we did put suggestions to a vote and we got 100 different views.”

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