Campaign launches to save UTV
BECTU has started a public campaign to challenge UTV's plans to cut jobs and to slash local programming.
Two weeks ago Northern Ireland’s commercial broadcaster UTV, part of the ITV Network, announced plans to cut 30-35 jobs in production and would not rule out compulsory redundancies.
BECTU’s campaign, which is supported by a new website [update - was link to website now closed due to resolution of dispute], has at its heart an appeal to Members of the Legislative Assembly and to the wider community. The campaign will highlight the damage that will be done to output and to jobs, if UTV is allowed to push the changes through.
Despite BECTU’s attempts to engage in consultations with the company, UTV has so far failed to commit to talks with the union. UTV has a legal obligation to consult with BECTU as the recognised union for the staff affected.
BECTU National Official Pat Styles commented: "Despite our attempts to enter into meaningful discussions with UTV over their programme of proposed compulsory redundancies, the company has yet to respond either meaningfully or positively.
“We have requested an urgent meeting with Group HR Director, Mairead Regan, and suggested dates for such a meeting, but so far UTV has ignored this reasonable request.
“The truth of the matter is that UTV has seized upon the flexibilities proposed by Ofcom to make damaging cuts without reference to staff or to the audience and without any financial justification.”
"Our members are facing the bleak prospect of being made redundant in the run up to Christmas; these job cuts will also dramatically reduce the amount of local programming available to the Northern Ireland audience.
“Faced with a management which is currently unwilling to talk to us, we are going public with our campaign to defend our members' jobs and public service broadcasting in Northern Ireland.
“To this end, our members will shortly begin lobbying their Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to put pressure on UTV over their ill-conceived plans."
Announcing its plan for cuts, UTV declared that its decision to axe almost a third of staff jobs, was a necessary response to recommendations in Ofcom's public service broadcasting review.
“The truth of the matter is that UTV has seized upon the flexibilities proposed by Ofcom to make damaging cuts without reference to staff or to the audience and without any financial justification.” explained Pat Styles.
Ofcom’s PSB review is in its second phase of consultation; no firm decisions on changes to programming in the nations and regions will be made until 2009.
In 2007 UTV Media plc reported revenue of more than £115 million, up from £113 million in 2006; profit before tax was also up, to £18,691,000 from £16,805,000 in 2006.
The company's top five executives wasted no time in rewarding themselves in response to the company's success. John McCann alone, UTV’s leading executive director, received benefits and bonuses of £233,743 on top of his basic salary of £390,000.
Friday 31 October 2008