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FT offers voluntary redundancies and freezes salaries

LONDON - The Financial Times is offering its staff voluntary redundancies and freezing salaries, making it the latest publisher to restructure its business in a bid to reduce costs during the financial crisis.

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In an email from the paper's chief executive John Ridding, employees were told to express interest for voluntary redundancy by December 19.

Employees were also told that those who earn more than £30,000 would have their salary frozen.

They have also been given the option of choosing to work a three- or four-day week.

Ridding wrote: "We continue to perform well against the competition, taking market share in advertising, readership and circulation.

"But with our customers and advertisers being affected we need to prepare for difficult times. We need to act early and decisively to reduce costs so that we can sustain our investment and our success."

The FT plans to review its decision on salaries if conditions improve faster than expected.

It will not be undertaking a recruitment freeze but will be limiting travel and entertainment.

Ridding wrote: "We will seek to limit the impact on jobs, and these measures will help. But we will need to continue to review the size and shape of our operations as we manage through this unprecedented economic environment and as we continue to adapt to the challenges and opportunities of digital media."

The FT has already made some redundancies in its library and research division in October.

These latest redundancies follow cuts at several other newspaper publishers.

Regional publisher Johnston Press has reduced its staff by 12% since the start of the year and it was revealed last month that up to 90 jobs are to be cut at the Independent and Independent on Sunday.

400 people have left papers published by the Daily Mail & General Trust.

Last week, the Telegraph Media Group announced reductions amounting to 10% of its editorial staff, a move that will put about 50 journalists out of work.

John Ridding's email in full:

Dear all,

Every day we report, with unrivalled authority, the impact and repercussions of the global financial crisis. As you'll know from our coverage, financial turbulence has moved rapidly into the real economy, affecting a broad range of businesses and sectors.

We have naturally been assessing the implications for the FT, and how we should respond to this fast-moving crisis and the recession it is bringing. And I wanted to update you on our position and plans.

We continue to perform well against the competition, taking market share in advertising, readership and circulation. But with our customers and advertisers being affected we need to prepare for difficult times. We need to act early and decisively to reduce costs so that we can sustain our investment and our success.

We have already been working hard on this front. The global efficiency programme and the strategic operations review, to which many of you have contributed, have secured substantial savings over the past year, across print and distribution, the integration of acquisitions and the renegotiation of contracts. These savings and the redeployment of resources have enabled us to invest in new formats, in print and online.

With global economic conditions continuing to deteriorate, and with the prospect of a tougher and more difficult environment in 2009 and possibly longer, we are taking the following steps:

-- In line with Pearson guidelines, an annual base salary increase for 2009 will be given only to those earning less than £30,000, or US$50,000 (or local currency equivalents). For other employees, base salaries for 2009 will be held at 2008 levels. If conditions improve more rapidly than expected we will review this salary decision. But we'll need to wait at least until the second half of the year before considering that.

-- We are offering voluntary redundancy (with acceptance depending on whether your departments can accommodate requests). Expressions of interest should reach Kim Brosnan or your department manager by December 19.

We are offering a voluntary reduction in your working week to 3 or 4 days (again, where departments can accommodate this).

-- We will tighten up on recruitment. There will not be a recruitment freeze, since we want to continue to attract the best talent. But we will be rigorous in managing headcount, with approval required for new hires from me and Scott Henderson.

-- Travel and entertainment will be limited to essential revenue-generating or editorial trips and meetings.

These measures are in no way a reflection of your excellent work and effort, which is demonstrated by our strong performance against the competition. Rather, they are a result of this unusually severe economic downturn and our determination to sustain the competitive edge we have established from the quality of our journalism to increased commercial market share and product innovations.

We will seek to limit the impact on jobs, and these measures will help. But we will need to continue to review the size and shape of our operations as we manage through this unprecedented economic environment and as we continue to adapt to the challenges and opportunities of digital media.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me or speak to your manager. Detailed questions on the pay policy, working hours and voluntary redundancy can be directed to Kim Brosnan or your HR manager.

I realise these are challenging times and thank you for your commitment, support and understanding.

Best wishes,

John

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