A group of Financial Times journalists have called on chief executive John Ridding to hand back some of his £2.6m salary to reward all staff, saying it “makes a mockery of any concept of fairness”.
In an email sent to hundreds of editorial staff at the FT, 24 members of the FT Group National Union of Journalists chapel committee expressed their “collective outrage” at Ridding’s 2017 pay.
According to full year accounts for 2017 filed by the Financial Times Ltd last week, Ridding (pictured), the group’s highest paid director, was awarded a pay rise of £509,000 to £2.55m (including pension contributions), up from a pay packet of £2.04m the year before.
The email, sent by joint father of the FT chapel Steve Bird on Wednesday, claimed Ridding’s salary was equivalent to 65 per cent of the FT Ltd’s £4m operating profit in 2017 (down 40 per cent year-on-year).
FT Ltd made revenue of £321m in 2017, up from £311m in 2016, but profit before tax for the newspaper publisher fell from £6.2m in 2016 to £4.7m last year.
However the FT said accounts filed at Companies House do not provide a full picture of the group as it does not provide consolidated earnings for the global business.
A spokesperson said global profits had more than doubled.
Bird’s email, seen by Press Gazette, said: “After years of negligible pay rises and real terms pay cuts, squeezed resources and an assault on FT final pay pensions, the company’s decision to pay its chief executive 100 times the salary of a trainee journalist makes a mockery of any concept of fairness and breaks the bounds of corporate integrity.”
It added: “Any gains in subscriptions or profitability are due to the dedication and very heavy workload of hundreds of staff, not just one person.
“We believe that John Ridding should give back his absurdly large pay increases since 2016 and use the funds to reward all staff, especially those on lower salaries, and to help bridge the gender pay gap.”
In the email, Bird also said the FT was making a “painfully slow attempt” to improve its gender pay gap, which has marginally improved from 19.4 per cent in 2017 to 18.4 per cent this year (median figure).
The FT chapel intends to ask all of its NUJ members for their views on the issue ahead of a meeting later this month.
An FT spokesperson told Press Gazette: “We don’t comment on individual pay. However, reward at the FT is performance related and we saw a sharp increase in profitability in 2017, while investing in new products and services. ”
Digital subscriptions at the FT are now at 740,000, up 11 per cent year-on-year, the company said today.
In 2017 the FT reached a record high paid-for readership of more than 910,000 people who paid to read the title in print and online, up 8 per cent year-on-year, according to the annual results summary.
The FT was bought by Japanese media company Nikkei in 2015 in a £844m deal from Pearson, which had owned the title since 1957.
Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett