28 November 2009
The decision by Red Bee Media to withdraw from talks with BECTU and the NUJ about changes to staff terms could prompt a ballot for industrial action.
A breakdown in talks on 27 November threatens to inflame the dispute.
Talks ended yesterday (Friday) with management's insistence that changes to staff contracts would be imposed on 1 January 2010; this despite months of talks in which union officials have been focussed on securing a negotiated agreement on the reorganisation.
Union representatives have called emergency meetings with members next week to discuss the way forward.
One of the main areas of disagreement relates to future redundancy terms.
After yesterday's meeting, redundancy rights for existing staff remain unclear. However the company is wedded to plans to cut benefits for new staff, a position underlined recently by chief executive officer, Bill Patrizio.
In an effort to use every possible opportunity to avoid a full-blown dispute, the unions proposed a meeting at the next stage of the formal procedure (a meeting at a more senior level); this offer was rejected by Red Bee. The unions went further and suggested a meeting at the conciliation service, ACAS; this offer was similarly rebuffed.
Local representatives are encouraging staff to check locally for details of next week's meetings and to take part in the ongoing consultation.