FT in ET race row

by - 22nd February 2012, 12.47 GMT

The Financial Times is being taken to an employment tribunal to face accusations of race discrimination against employees of FT Chinese, the Chinese version of the Financial Times online.

Unlike FT employees sitting next to them, FT Chinese staff work five night shifts a week instead of four and do not have the same minimum salary as their colleagues.

Despite the fact that their editor is an associate editor of the FT and that all FT Chinese staff were once employed directly by the FT, the paper is claiming that employees have lost any right to be included in the NUJ house agreement because they are now employed by a non-trading “shell” company – whose name is simply FT Chinese in Chinese.

NUJ lawyers backing the three writers and editors argue that they are victims of unlawful discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

The FT NUJ chapel, which has already successfully fought off attempts to make this team redundant two years ago, is completely behind the legal action.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The discrimination against FT Chinese staff is a disgrace. The union is prepared to challenge inequality whenever found in our industry. This unlawful discrimination must be stopped.”

Steve Bird, FoC at the FT Group chapel said: “It is a shame that the principled journalism that permeates the FT seems to bear no relation at all to the outlook of FT management. This is clearly discriminatory.”

Chapel officers have tried to broker a solution to the dispute via negotiations on this year’s pay award but to no avail.

NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said: “It is regrettable that, on both of these issues, FT management have been unwilling to engage with the union in our attempts to find a constructive resolution.”

This Friday sees the result of the chapel’s ballot for strike action against a 2% pay deal that has been condemned as “divisive and derisory”.

Staff are opposed to attempts to bring in merit-based pay increases for “star” journalists while they cut real-terms pay for the majority and are also furious at revelations that the remuneration for the top director at the FT, thought to be CEO John Ridding, was £928,000 in 2010. This figure has increased by 95% in the four years to 2010 while journalists’ salaries struggle to keep up with inflation.