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Associated Press faces summer of industrial action over pensions

BECTU flag in gold and blue BECTU members are set to join their NUJ colleagues in strikes over pension cuts at Associated Press.

6 June 2012

Staff at Associated Press (AP) and Associated Press Television News (APTN) have announced two days of strikes which could herald the start of a summer of action following the press agency’s proposal to close its final salary scheme and its failure to offer sustainable quality pension provision for its staff.

The NUJ and BECTU have not ruled out taking action during the Olympics.

Two 24-hour strikes called

The first set of strikes will take place from 7am on Monday 11 June to 7am on Tuesday 12 June and 7am on Saturday 16 June to 7am Sunday 17 June.

The NUJ and BECTU are campaigning for fair and decent pension provision for all at the company. 

The company has proposed closing the two existing defined benefit schemes and replacing them with the existing inadequate defined contribution scheme. Alternative union proposals have either been rejected or not responded to, putting the company in danger of failing to carry out a meaningful consultation.  A request to extend the consultation period by a month was also turned down.

As a result among NUJ members at APTN there was a 100% cent vote for strike action and at AP 87.5%. The turnout was 79.5% at APTN and 80% at AP. 

There was an 88% vote for strike action among BECTU members at APTN. The ballot results were declared on 1 June.

Members in the final salary (defined benefit) schemes stand to suffer significant financial detriment in retirement if the changes are made, while the existing defined contribution scheme does not even meet the recommended level for a decent pension set by the charitable Pensions Policy Institute.

In a joint statement, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, and Gerry Morrissey, BECTU general secretary, said:

“Members have made it clear this is not a short term dispute. They are committed to improving pension provision at AP for the long term. The unions want to negotiate a settlement to this dispute.

"The dedicated staff at AP and APTN do not deserve the poor replacement pension on offer with a much reduced employer contribution.  A world class company, can and should do better by its staff in terms of sustainable pension provision. The mood of the staff is very determined and unless common sense prevails on the management side industrial action will take place next week.”

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