The NUJ reacted angrily today after Newsquest announced the closing of its final salary pension scheme for exiting members - it was already closed to new entrants.
The union has accused Newsquest of breaking pensions promises to staff and called on the company to "think again."
Newsquest changed the pensions scheme in 2007 when the company increased members’ contributions. The NUJ claims that at the time members were led to believe that by paying more they would protect the scheme for the future. Today the NUJ has called on the company to begin meaningful national collective consultation about any new changes. Union members are to meet next week to co-ordinate their response.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said “This is appalling news for dedicated and hard working journalists at Newsquest. The company should keep its hands off members’ pensions. Hard-working staff deserve a decent retirement and Newsquest should honour its previous commitments. We call on them to think again.”
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern & Midlands organiser, said: "Our members will expect that the company, if it has valid reasons for wanting to shut the scheme to further build up of pensions, to be open and transparent and therefore to engage honourably with the recognised trade unions on a collective and therefore national basis, as other major media companies have done in similar situations.
"Our members will have many questions to ask about why this is necessary now when just three years ago an extremely painful process led to a phased 60 per cent increase in pension contributions by members of the scheme from 6% of salary to 10% to - in the company's words - 'produce what is hoped to be a long-term sustainable solution for members of the Scheme that avoids the Scheme being closed to future accrual'.
“We need to know what has caused the scheme's deficit to apparently double in that short time when employees were making such sacrifices to keep the scheme open. Many will feel this is the final betrayal by a company that has demanded huge cuts in employees' standards of living in the last few years as its UK profits have continued to flow across the Atlantic to feed the massive debt built up by Gannett to pay for its acquisition of Newsquest.
"Chapels up and the country will be meeting to discuss how to respond collectively to this latest morale-sapping blow to their members."
- Bob Smith, father of the NUJ's Newsquest group chapel, added: "These plans represent a huge blow to Newsquest's loyal staff who have helped the company weather the worst recession in living memory. Journalists' pay has been frozen for two years after the company tore up pay agreements without consultation. Now, NUJ members face losing thousands of pounds in retirement as their pensions are effectively frozen too."
Hat Tip: Grey Cardigan