Financial Times staff vote for strike action over '£4m pensions robbery'
Financial Times staff have voted in favour of strike action over proposed changes to pensions made by the newspaper.
Almost 92 per cent of the 171 staff who voted were in favour of going ahead with industrial action over what the NUJ have branded as a "£4m pensions robbery". That number represents around 7 per cent of the total FT headcount or around 20 per cent of journalists.
The discontent stems from proposals by new owner Nikkei, which is expected to finalise its £844m takeover of the FT Group at the end of the month, to end the final-salary pension scheme.
Staff have condemned Nikkei and FT management for failing to honour promises to maintain equivalent terms of employment following the takeover from Pearson and for plans to use cost savings to pay for rent on their building, which is still owned by Pearson, and for other costs.
The FT NUJ chapel is due to meet at 3pm to decide on whether to go ahead with the strike following an improved offer from management on Monday. Father of chapel, Steve Bird, said the “overwhelming vote shows the widespread anger over attempts to backtrack on a commitment to maintaining our pensions after the takeover".
He added that FT senior managers have “completely lost the trust of their staff including most senior journalists” and said it will be “seeking talks with our new owners and expect a clear commitment to make good any shortfall on our pensions".
A spokesperson for the FT said: "We are disappointed that the NUJ has not agreed to withdraw the threat of industrial action when there are ongoing consultations and sincere efforts to work toward a negotiated agreement underway, including a significantly improved pensions offer to staff.
"While we do not take lightly any discontent amongst our employees, we must find the right balance between individual benefits (those who voted in the ballot represent a small minority of staff) and the sustainable financial future of the FT, for the benefit of all."
The improved offer which the NUJ chapel will decide on proposes to plug the £4m gap but only for 2016.