NUJ ballot on Trinity's slashed pension plan

The Mirror’s take on this week’s pension reforms

The NUJ is co-ordinating a national ballot to to see whether chapels throughout Trinity Mirror want to take industrial action over the company’s decision to close its current pension scheme to newcomers.

The company is introducing a new scheme from 1 January for new employees (Press Gazette, 22 November), which its journalists have claimed will produce only half the benefits of the old one.

The industrial action campaign has already had the approval of the Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool chapels and there will be a group chapel meeting on 13 January.

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ national organiser, said the campaign was complicated by the fact that there are a number of pension schemes within the company, due to the number of acquisitions Trinity Mirror has made over the years, and that the British Association of Journalists, not the NUJ, legally represented the journalists at the Daily Mirror.

Trinity Mirror has denied reports that the pensions trustees have challenged the basis on which the company is introducing the new scheme and they have had to defer it until February.

A company spokesman said the trustees, who met last Thursday to discuss the issue, had no power to make any changes to the new scheme.

He also denied that the trustees had only heard about the change when they read about it in the national press. There had been wide communication of the strategy, he said, and "no one was left out of the loop".

The old scheme remains open for current employees to join until 28 February.

At the Birmingham Evening Mail and Birmingham Post, where the in-company pension scheme was plundered to the tune of £60m in the Eighties, journalists are very concerned. A new valuation shows the scheme to be £200,000 in surplus. But the Birmingham NUJ chapel believes newcomers will have an inferior benefit, lowered from 14 per cent to 7 per cent, they claim, and that the new scheme transfers all the risk onto the individual rather than the company.

It is also concerned about the future of the scheme if more people take out pension cash than newcomers pay in.

The Trinity Mirror spokesman said: "We have a duty to those who are currently our employees and we are offering people who are already employed everything they want." More than 50 out of 150 members attended a recent chapel meeting. Union FoC Chris Morley said: "We had our best attended chapel meeting for five years and there was a unanimous vote to ask for a ballot on industrial action."

By Jean Morgan

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