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Dates Set for ITN Pension Strike



January 9, 2007

Union members at news provider ITN are poised for two days of strike action in defence of pension benefits.

A ballot of BECTU members, which closed on January 5, showed 54% of them in favour of strike action, with a participation rate of 68%.

A similar ballot of NUJ members produced a 67% majority in favour of action, and both unions have given ITN notice of industrial action on January 16 and January 23.

The first day of action will consist of a 24-hour stoppage.

Unions have been in talks for several months about plans to cut ITN 's contribution to its final-salary pension scheme by raising the staff retirement age from 60 to 65, reducing the rate at which benefits are built up for some staff, and capping the annual increases paid to pensioners.

Talks broke down hours before both sides were due to meet at ACAS in November 2006, when management declared that their proposals were a final offer, and would not be improved.

Although strike dates were announced immediately after the ballot closed, the unions have indicated that they are willing to continue negotiations in the hope of reaching an agreement, tabling a counter-proposal for management to consider.

This consists of an offer to increase staff contributions to the pension fund by 2% of salary each year, and to accept the reduction in accrual rate from 1/50ths to 1/60ths, in return for company concessions on the retirement age and capped pensions.

Early indications from the company were that it might be willing to meet the unions to discuss the counter-proposal, but strike dates remain in place.

Meetings of members at ITN have supported the unions' efforts to re-start talks, but also expressed determination to go ahead with strike action if necessary.

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