UTV redundancies spark dispute

BECTU has registered a dispute with Ulster TV over its proposed redundancy programme.

Early last week UTV management announced its intention to cut 26 posts in its Television Division; but by the end of the week that number had grown to 35.

“It is important that UTV understands that BECTU is opposed to any compulsory redundancies.”

Despite the fact that BECTU is the recognised union for the affected staff, BECTU has yet to be invited to take part in formal consultations.

UTV insists that its announcement is a necessary response to Ofcom's proposals last month which would allow for a cut in the company’s output.

Ofcom’s controversial announcement, which if rubber-stamped would also permit drastic cuts in ITV’s regional news, is formally a proposal and not a firm decision.

BECTU official, Pat Styles commented: "UTV's handling of its proposed restructuring represents a breach of our agreement. We expect to be formally consulted and to be allowed to represent the interests of our members. The company's attitude is deeply unsettling for staff and is not what we expect from a company of the size, reputation and responsibilities of UTV.

"It is a huge disappointment to BECTU to discover that instead of working with us to first explore every possible avenue to maintain public service broadcasting for the people of Northern Ireland, UTV is immediately seeking to cut jobs within its television division and is holding over staff the threat of compulsory redundancies.

"Last week Michael Wilson, managing director, wrote to staff saying, ‘&our local programming is key to our commercial success’. The company's attitude to its staff and to BECTU, as the recognised union, conflicts with this.

“It is important that UTV understands that BECTU is opposed to any compulsory redundancies." Pat Styles concluded.

Monday 20 October 2008