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More talks set after ACAS meeting over pay and pensions

Another day of talks is to be held at conciliation service ACAS in a bid to solve a dispute over pay and pensions at CN Group.

National Union of Journalists representatives from the News & Star and Cumberland News in Carlisle, the Whitehaven News and the North West Evening Mail in Barrow, met with management from the news group on Thursday.

And although no agreement was reached, the NUJ said the company indicated it could be willing to review pay, and so the two sides have agreed to meet again on May 14.

The long-running dispute began when CN Group anounced it was to close of its final salary pension scheme and introduce a defined contribution scheme instead.

This was brought in last month, but union members say not enough has been done to compensate them and a three per cent pay rise actually amounts to a pay cut because more contributions and more national insurance payments are needed.

NUJ Northern organiser Chris Morley said that during the six-and-half hour meeting the company had indicated that it “shut the door” on pensions, but there was still much to talk about.

He said: “That left us dealing with the issue of compensation as the company has dumped the risk from the company to members.

“Clearly they are not prepared to accept that without some premium being paid, and a number of suggestions were put forward which we are interested in pursuing.

“If the company is hell-bent on destroying the final salary scheme, which it seems to be, then one way of compensating would be through higher pay.

“It has said it is willing to review pay but at the moment it is a vague suggestion and there is still a long way to go before anything concrete.”

CN Group chief executive Robin Burgess confirmed to HoldtheFrontPage that another meeting was planned for May 14, but said he did not want to comment on the matter before that.

He added: “It’s positive that we’ve got another meeting.”

All three NUJ chapels have previously voted in favour of industrial action, but had said they would not act until after the first meeting.

Should no agreement be reached on May 14, they would all still legally be able to take action.