ITV criticised over pension scheme closure plans

ITV criticised over pension scheme closure plans

ITV has been criticised over plans to close the UTV pension scheme – which could see employees lose tens of thousands from their retirement fund.

Bectu, the UK’s biggest broadcast union, said the planned closure was estimated to affect nearly a quarter of UTV’s 99 member workforce, warning they could be at least £50,000 out of pocket over the course of their retirement.

UTV is a Northern Irish television channel based in Belfast which was bought by ITV in 2016.

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The company said the closure was necessary to be "fair to all its employees".

But Bectu has branded the planned closure a "sham" and said the decision did not honour the terms and conditions offered to members when they started working for the company.

The alternative pension arrangement proposes a maximum employer contribution rate of 9 per cent of basic salary.

Bectu has questioned this 9 per cent contribution, pointing out ITV’s chief executive Carolyn McCall received a pension contribution of £133,000, which was 15 per cent of her basic salary. She was also paid a salary of £3,695,000 in 2018.

Angela Moffatt, Bectu's negotiator in Northern Ireland, said UTV was seeking to impose detrimental pension changes that would cost its members tens of thousands of pounds over the course of their retirement, adding this would leave a gaping financial hole for those hoping to maintain a quality of life after working so hard for UTV.

"We are calling for UTV to defer the implementation of its proposal so that it can properly consider our response. The fairest outcome would be for UTV to honour the pension arrangements our members signed up for. If UTV ploughs ahead with its proposal, it should at least share some of the huge savings by compensating the members affected."

"Bectu members are wondering why the maximum employer contribution to the alternative pension scheme they have been offered is 9% while the chief executive of UTV’s parent group gets a 15 per cent pension contribution. If the proposal to close the pension scheme is really about fairness, the company should offer the same terms to all its employees."

ITV’s net pension deficit stood at £38m at the end of 2018, according to its full year results.

An ITV spokesperson said: "There was a large disparity between the benefits we provide the members of the UTV scheme and the cost of those benefits and this change is proposed to ensure that we have fair and equitable pension provisions for all of our employees across the UK and within our Northern Irish business.

"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.  

"We are conducting a full open and transparent consultation process which goes over and above the legislative requirements to ensure all affected staff have time to assess the impact of the changes on their personal circumstances and the options available to them. Their existing defined benefit (DB) pension benefits will not be affected."