Union uproar over ITV plans to close pension scheme

William Turvill
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ITV reported an 11 per cent rise in revenue in the first half of 2016 (Source: Getty)

Broadcaster ITV is under fire from unions over plans to close its pension scheme.

The company has told staff it plans to shut its defined benefits pension scheme to future accruals.

Under the change, those benefits built up within the current scheme would remain in place.

However, future proceeds would be put into a new defined contribution scheme, meaning pay-outs would be linked to investment returns rather than a guaranteed percentage of final salary.

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Unite, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and broadcast union Bectu are seeking a meeting with pension trustees following a “disappointing” meeting with management on Monday.

The groups have criticised ITV for failing to provide sufficient information on the proposal, including numbers of deferred and active pensioners.

The NUJ’s broadcast organiser Sue Harris condemned the move and the timing of the announcement – staff and the unions were informed in July, shortly before ITV reported rising revenues and profits for the first half of the year.

Read more: ITV targets £25m in savings after Brexit vote

“ITV is thriving and in healthy profit,” she said.

So for it to make this announcement, at the height of summer when many staff were on holiday, is both puzzling and cynical. Management was unable to give us any proper information or justification for the proposed change.

Reporting its results in July, ITV revealed it was targeting £25m in cost savings next year as part of a “robust plan to allow us to meet the opportunities and challenges” resulting from Brexit.

ITV is proposing to close the defined benefit section from 30 November and giving its 472 current members the option to join the new scheme. These members will keep the pension they've already built up.

The defined benefit scheme has been closed to new entrants for more than a decade.

The company told staff in a letter seen by City A.M.:

There’s currently a large disparity between the benefits we provide to different members of the Scheme and the cost of those benefits. We need to make pensions at ITV more equitable. We also need to ensure our pension arrangements are suitable for the business and reflect the broader pensions environment, which has changed significantly in the last few years.

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