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Newsquest ‘confirms pension scheme closure’

Regional publisher Newsquest has come under further fire from the National Union of Journalists today after apparently confirming plans to close its final salary pension scheme.

The NUJ revealed in August the group’s proposals to shut the scheme, which has been closed to new members for a number of years, but would stop existing members accruing final salary benefits.

Now it says Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson has written to members of the scheme saying the group will end future pension growth in March next year, despite a case put forward by the union to keep it going.

It comes on the same day it emerged the company faces four days of strikes next week, with journalists at the Southern Daily Echo and The Argus each holding separate 48-hour walkouts.

Chris Morley, the NUJ’s Northern and Midlands organiser, said: “From the answers we obtained to detailed and challenging questions put to the company in the consultation over closure of scheme, it was patently obvious that bosses were hell-bent on swinging the axe.

“I believe the decision has been taken as a result of arrogant ignorance. We firmly believe that given the will, a way could have been found to retain the best elements of a defined benefit pension scheme, not just for those currently in it, but all those who have been excluded from it over the last few years.

“Now that Paul Davidson has made the board’s position clear, the focus clearly falls on the inferior benefit left in its place. This is a profitable company that can afford to do much better and the NUJ will be pushing it all the way on this.”

The NUJ says it was denied access to a new draft valuation of the pension fund which was reported to show a deficit of £123m.

Newsquest staff in the final salary pension scheme can join a defined contribution scheme but the union says this offers some of the lowest company contributions in the newspaper industry.

Mr Davidson was unavailable for comment at the time of publication but the NUJ said his letter to staff thanked them for their understanding on the company having to make a ‘difficult decision’.

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  • November 12, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Newsquest are a disgrace, there is no other word for it. I’m ashamed of my own profession every time they pull (another) stroke. Never mind a couple of two-day walk outs, there should be a full on strike until they manage their business more responsibly.

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