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Staff vote to strike over pensions – but say they'll wait for talks first

National Union of Journalists members at the News & Star and Cumberland News in Carlisle, and the Whitehaven News, have voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay and pensions.

But the union says it will not call any action ahead of planned talks with CN Group management at conciliation service ACAS, scheduled for May 3.

More than 50 NUJ members at the papers were balloted over the closure of their final-salary pension scheme, with more than 80 per cent voting in favour of a strike and more than 90 per cent voting for action short of a strike.

Two separate ballots are also currently being held at sister newspapers the Whitehaven News and the North West Evening Mail in Barrow.

Jenny Lennox, NUJ assistant organiser for the North and Midlands, told HoldtheFrontPage: “At the moment there is no intention to call any action as we want to see how talks progress.

“We are optimistic of an agreement.”

Staff at the papers are unhappy at the introduction of a new defined contribution pension scheme, and say the change will hit them hard financially.

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.

They claim the three per cent pay rise they received this year has been a pay cut in real terms because the new pension scheme requires more contributions and more national insurance payments.