11 March 2010
BECTU issued the following press release today, Thursday 11 March, ahead of a ballot for industrial action amongst members at Red Bee Media.
Red Bee Media's planned cuts to redundancy pay provoke industrial action ballot
An industrial action ballot will run from 19 March to 15 April.
Members of media and entertainment union, BECTU, at Red Bee Media are to take part in a ballot for industrial action to defend their redundancy rights.
Management wants to cut future redundancy entitlements for existing staff by half from 1 July and has described its proposals as 'balanced and fair'.
Without the current challenge, new staff joining Red Bee Media from next month would accrue redundancy pay rights based on just two weeks' pay for each year of service instead of the existing one month per year of service.
Notice of the union’s intention to ballot was served on Red Bee Media today; ballot papers will be distributed by the independent scrutineer on 19 March and the vote will run until 15 April.
BECTU members are joined in this dispute by colleagues in the NUJ who face the same attack on their conditions of employment.
Red Bee Media provides broadcast output (playout) and support services for all of the BBC’s television channels in addition Channel 4 and UKTV services.
If implemented, the company's planned cuts would see future redundancy pay entitlement slashed to two weeks' per year of service. Staff with less than 16 years’ service, are also being asked to accept that accrued entitlements be cut from one month per year of service to three weeks’ per year.
The staff affected are covered by redundancy terms inherited from their previous employer, the BBC. These staff have long established rights to accrue redundancy pay based on one month’s pay for each year of service capped at two years' pay.
In the consultative ballot which closed on 4 March, BECTU members voted by a majority of 76% against the proposed changes to redundancy policy.
The dispute also reflects BECTU members' rejection of the company's plans for transport policy; 61% of members voted against these particular proposals. The company wants to force additional costs onto staff who travel regularly by taxi due to the absence of public transport late at night and in the early hours.
National official, Suresh Chawla, commented:
"Following our members categorical rejection of the proposals, we requested a meeting with the employer to continue negotiations and to avert industrial action.
"Unfortunately Red Bee has refused our request and we have no option now but to ballot. The changes proposed are so damaging that we will be urging members to vote in favour of industrial action."
Supervisory official, Helen Ryan confirmed:
“If our members give us the mandate we need, action will be organised to disrupt Red Bee’s operation and strike action cannot be ruled out.”
Note to editors:
For more details on the issues in dispute see http://www.bectu.org.uk/news/615