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ITN revisits pension proposals under strike threat

UK - ITN says it will go back to the negotiating table after two trades unions voted to strike against the UK broadcaster's plans to cut contributions to its final-salary scheme.

"There is very little room for manoeuvre in our funding position," said spokeswoman Louise Evans, "but we're looking at recalibrating the benefit structure to keep the fund open."

The statement marks a volte face from November, when ITN announced that its proposals represented a final offer. In addition to reducing the employer's contribution, these included upping the retirement age from 60 to 65, reducing the accrual rate and capping annual pay-out increases.

Ahead of two planned one-day strikes later this month, technicians' union BECTU and the National Union of Journalists have issued counter-proposals that include increasing annual staff contributions by 2% of salary and accepting the accrual reduction in return for concessions on retirement age and pension caps.

Evans said: "We want to keep the fund open but at an affordable level. We want an outcome that's in the best interests of the scheme, the company and its employees."

She described the unions' decision to strike as "unfortunate and disappointing", arguing that 50% of employees are not in the scheme and that, in real terms, only 11.3% of the total workforce had voted to strike.

"Most people are more interested in coming to work," she said.

BECTU pointed out that its ballot had a participation rate of 68%, with 54% of members voting to strike. NUJ's ballot returned a 67% majority in favour of industrial action.

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