Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Mirror pensions scandal

Spent yesterday morning at Canary Wharf being briefed by senior Trinity Mirror managers about their proposals to close the final salary pension scheme to all - and replace it with an inferior scheme.

The company had written to everyone late on Friday afternoon (they're all heart) saying they could no longer afford the scheme and therefore had to close it. There is a consultation until 8 January about the plans but no-one is under any illusion that this is a consultation in name only to meet legal obligations, not to really listen to the views of staff. NUJ officials will be meeting on Wednesday to plan our response. The problem we will face is years of poor decision making and returning cash to shareholders instead of saving for a rainy day mean that now it is pouring down and with a refinancing deal looming the company has little cash, despite the fact it keeps churning our profits. The problem for the company is that most people now no longer believe they have a strategy to grow the company.

Friday's news came as I was attending the seminar A Media Manifesto for the Digital Age and speaking as part of a panel which included Lord Norman Fowler, Don Foster MP, Caroline Thompson from the BBC and Natalie Fenton from Goldsmith's. A copy of my speech is available here

Saturday morning I spoke at the SERTUC Building Trades Councils' conference. A copy of my speech is available here.

Saturday evening I had dinner with Mark Serwotka and Christine Blower, General Secretaries of the PCS and NUT respectively, their partners and some friends. A very pleasant way to set the world to rights.

After yesterday's Trinity Mirror meeting I met Meic Birtwistle, NEC member for Wales and Ken Smith, chair of the NUJ's Welsh Executive Council to discuss the work there, including the prospect of recognition at the Trinity titles in Llandudno and recruitment initiatives in Caernavon before speaking at the London Magazine Branch, which ended up in a really interesting discussion about unpaid work experience and the future organisation of the union - should we be organised on a sector basis, company basis, geographical basis and should subscriptions be based on income, sector or some other factor. This is a debate which will have to be had across the whole union because the current structures and subscriptions grades are outdated and will be incapable of supporting the union's activities in the future.

This morning I'm off to the TUC Executive.

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