Michelle Stanistreet NUJ

General secretary of the NUJ Michelle Stanistreet has described the FT's offer as 'an insult'

Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) working at the Financial Times have called on the chief executive of Pearson "to help avert a strike at the newspaper", which members have already voted in favour of over a rejected pay offer.

According to a release from the NUJ, its members - who voted in favour of strike action over pay last week - have also called on management "to meet at ACAS", which offers mediation around employment disputes.

The Financial Times says it has offered an increase in salaries of 3.5 per cent, which is based on a 2 to 2.5 per cent rise for all editorial staff and a 1 per cent incentive "for merit".

The NUJ claims that a 2 to 2.5 per cent pay rise equals a cut in pay in real terms. The union adds that father of the chapel Steve Bird has written an open letter to Pearson chief executive Marjorie Scardino, to say if the offer is "3.5 per cent with no compulsory redundancies" as Bird claims she has described it in the press, then "there would almost certainly be no strike threat."

"The vast majority of FT editorial staff have received a 2 per cent pay rise. A handful of others and some non-journalists have received 2.5 per cent," Bird said.

"The other 1 per cent could be offered as part of the pay offer (as we have asked to happen) but has not been. It is being kept back for use to 'retain staff' and to reward certain individuals in a non-transparent way at the sole discretion of the managing editor.

"We appreciate your concern at the strike threat. In reply to your question about what else to do, it would be best to start by persuading our managers to give us the offer you have outlined in the press.

"Your intervention could be timely and help avoid a confrontation that would be extremely damaging to the FT brand and to relations in the newsroom."

The NUJ's general secretary Michelle Stanistreet added in the release: "The FT is making a good profit and in its end of year report, the group is claiming that it has achieved the highest circulation in the paper’s history. So why is it offering its journalists, who must take credit for this success, an insult of a pay deal?"

A spokesperson for the Financial Times said those who voted in favour of strike action represent "a small proportion of FT's 620 editorial staff".

"The current situation is that the NUJ will hold a mandatory meeting next week and propose that talks continue at Acas as a means of finding a compromise.

"The proposed pay increase of 3.5 per cent includes a 2-2.5 per cent raise for all editorial staff plus an additional 1 per cent for merit payments. More than 40 per cent of staff (those earning less than £50,000 per year) have already been awarded the 2.5 per cent increase. In addition to this all editorial staff will receive a profit share award and a bonus this year.

"We view the vote for industrial action and the risk of disruption unwarranted and unreasonable. The Financial Times has continued to invest in its editorial operations because we strongly believe that quality journalism is at the heart of our global success.

"The proposed salary increase compares favourably with the rest of the industry and we have avoided any compulsory redundancies at a time when news organisations around the world are facing exceptional challenges - in fact, we have increased editorial staff numbers in recent years."

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