the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

30 October 2009

World Service staff showed support for their catering colleagues today (Friday) by boycotting their canteen.

More than 50 staff attended a lunchtime rally outside Bush House called in protest at Aramark's dismissal of catering workers.

Fourteen staff have been cut from the crew following a refurbishment of the facility.

BECTU maintains that more than half of those dismissed on redundancy grounds were denied their legal rights to individual consultation.

In a separate dispute, BECTU and the NUJ are working together to encourage the BBC to return to talks after management imposed cuts to the catering service.

Bush House is a 24-hour operation and the reduced operation will leave night workers without access to a decent standard of hot food. 

BBC World Service is a family

Speaking in response to the success of this afternoon's rally, Helen Ryan, BBC supervisory official, said:

"We thank World Service colleagues for their support today. Bush House is a family, despite the fact that several employers operate from the site. Our catering members have really appreciated the solidarity they have been shown today."

Union president, Tony Lennon, and national official, Pat Styles, addressed the rally and BBC journalist, Alan Johnston, also joined his colleagues at the entrance to Bush House. The NUJ's Jeremy Dear was unable to attend in person but sent a welcome message of support.

In his statement, Jeremy Dear criticised director-general, Mark Thompson, who earns £800,000 a year, for ordering the withdrawal of funds which had put people out of work and which would deprive journalists of their right to "a decent meal in the middle of the night."  

BECTU officials have invited Aramark to talks to discuss alternatives to redundancy; in the absence of a change of heart by the contractor, BECTU will investigate members' legal options.