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Pension changes spark union vote as news staff call for compensation

Journalists at the the News & Star and Cumberland News in Carlisle and the Whitehaven News are to ballot on industrial action over the closure of their final-salary pension scheme by parent company CN Group.

More than 50 National Union of Journalists members at the papers will receive ballot papers next week.

Staff are unhappy that a new defined contribution pension scheme is due to be introduced from April 1, and say the change will hit them hard finacially.

The NUJ says the company has offered to pay seven per cent of individuals’ current salary into the new scheme as a one-off lump sum, but some staff say this is not enough and are calling for more to be done to compensate them.

In October, staff called for a 20 per cent pay rise to offset the planned change.

Jenny Lennox, NUJ assistant organiser for the North and Midlands, told HoldtheFrontPage that staff had this year received a three per cent pay rise, but the new pension scheme meant they would need to pay more into the scheme and more national insurance.

She said: “In real terms they are getting a pay cut and therefore don’t believe they are getting appropriate recompense.

“After all, a pension is only deferred pay.”

She added: “No negotiations are taking place but we are hoping that will happen.

“An offer on either pay or pensions would help.

“The company could make it easier for staff. People are actually very angry.”

Ballot papers are due to go out to NUJ members at the the News & Star and Cumberland News next Tuesday and to staff at the Whitehaven News next Friday.

They will be asked if they would support strike action or industrial action short of a strike.

The result of the ballot should be known by mid-April, and management would then need to be given seven days notice of any resulting action.

CN Group chief executive Robin Burgess and finance director Andrew Swanston were unavailable for comment. Do you have a story about the regional press?
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