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FT chapel issues list of demands around pay and transparency with warning of 'widespread anger' among staff

Financial Times staff have set out a series of demands on the company today, including improved pay and full transparency over directors’ salaries, as they warn of “widespread anger among staff”.

The National Union of Journalists FT Chapel has demanded the company “act urgently” to improve trainee journalists’ salaries and award above-inflation pay rises to staff “who have had incomes squeezed while top executives have profited at our expense”.

At a planned union meeting today, members voted unanimously to condemn the £2.6m pay packet awarded to FT chief executive John Ridding last year, which included a £510,000 pay rise.

Press Gazette understands more than 100 staff members attended the meeting, with others also pledging their support.

Ahead of the meeting Ridding announced in an email to staff that he would return the six-figure pay rise and invest it in a women’s development fund to help tackle the company’s 18.4 per cent median gender pay gap.

He said he had also approached the FT’s owners about restructuring his pay.

But the FT chapel said in a message circulated to all editorial staff this afternoon that Ridding’s proposals “do not go far enough”.

The chapel said 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.

In the email shared with staff, seen by Press Gazette, the chapel said: “This has increased our already heavy workload with inevitable consequences for the health of our journalists.”

Staff said Ridding’s pay rise had actively worsened the gender pay gap at the FT and “undermined collective efforts to hit commercial and editorial targets by rewarding one person at the expense of many…”.

The chapel called on Ridding to spell out the details of his proposals for the use of his pay rise money to tackle the gender pay gap and said he should “initiate a similar effort on diversity”.

It called on Ridding to reveal his full pay packet for this year and forego his bonus, which it said should be “put back into the pot for all employees’ salaries”.

In other demands, the chapel called on the FT board to:

  • Reveal how much every director is paid, including expenses and pensions contributions and incentive/bonus schemes set up for each of them
  • Tie future pay rises for senior executives to the pay increases given to other staff
  • Publish a full and transparent set of global accounts for the business.

The last demand follows a claim by the FT that it had doubled profits globally, despite full-year accounts filed at Companies House for FT Ltd last month showing that pre-tax profits fell from £6.6m in 2016 to £4.7m in 2017. Operating profit was also down significantly to £4m.

An FT spokesperson has said these accounts do not provide a full picture of the company’s earnings and has repeatedly said profits are up.

The FT Chapel warned that if it did not receive a “timely response to all of our demands” it would instruct union representatives to place the matter in dispute and take steps up to and including balloting for industrial action.

“A good year for the FT should not mean that the rewards flow disproportionately to the top,” said members.

“We are proud to be FT journalists and remind management and the board that one of our roles is to hold the corporate world to account.

“Those who occupy leading FT positions are no exception and need to strive to be above reproach, as opposed to undermining the sustainability of the business.”

The FT has yet to respond to a request to comment.

Picture: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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