FT journalists in three-hour walkout threat

Journalists at the Financial Times have threatened to escalate their industrial action over a pay dispute after NUJ members voted for a three-hour walkout next week.

At 3pm yesterday around 250 journalists at the paper downed tools for a two-hour mandatory chapel meeting, when they passed the motion to walkout next Thursday if an agreement with management cannot be reached.

Talks between journalists and FT management via the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) on Monday failed to resolve the dispute.

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The FT chapel passed the following two motions, the first unanimously, the second with one vote against:

  • ‘This chapel has no confidence in the senior management of the Financial Times over its failure to ensure transparency in its dealings and for the contempt shown to staff throughout the pay negotiations.”
  • “The chapel expresses its deep disappointment at the failure of management to uphold the principles of the Financial Times and its long history of high-quality journalism. FT management claim their real-terms pay cut for staff, combined with excessive bonuses for executives, is fair.
  • ‘We call on management to back their words with action and submit to binding arbitration at ACAS. Pending that, we will hold a three-hour mandatory meeting next Thursday to decide on the next step as part of our continuing programme of industrial action.”

NUJ members voted by three to one to take strike action last month.

The minimum pay increase is two per cent for all staff, with many getting 2.5 per cent, but the total editorial pay pot is understood to be 3.5 per cent, with management proposing to use the remainder to reward particular staff.

This move seen by the union as an attack on the collective bargaining arrangement contained within the FT house agreement.

Steve Bird, FoC, FT Group Chapel, said: ‘By justifying vast salaries for FT executives and keeping a large part of the pay award back for ‘star’ employees, FT managers are undermining both the team that produces the newspaper and the principles and high standards on which the paper is based.

‘I am immensely proud of the stand the chapel is taking which is as much about integrity and fairness as it is about a cut-price pay offer.”

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary, added: ‘The NUJ is backing the action of FT journalists and will also be doing all we can to persuade the management to see sense and offer a fair distribution of the available money.

‘With the FT’s latest figures showing a 27 per cent profit increase at the group and the highest circulation in the paper’s history, there is no justification for this unfair pay award.”

Yesterday the FT issued a statement saying Tuesday’s mandatory meeting was ‘unwarranted and unreasonable, placing an unnecessary burden on colleagues committed to publishing the newspaper and the website”.

It added: “The proposed salary increase of 3.5 per cent – with 2-2.5 per cent for all editorial staff and 1 per cent for merit, plus a bonus, is a good offer that compares favourably with the rest of the industry.

“The Financial Times has continued to invest in its editorial operations and has avoided any compulsory redundancies at a time when news organisations around the world are facing exceptional challenges.”

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk



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