the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

24 April 2010

Members at Red Bee are considering an improved offer from the company to settle disputes which threaten strike action.

If accepted, the substantially improved offer would see accrued redundancy rights protected without qualification; in addition, proposals to make staff responsible for tax on late night and early morning transport  would be deferred until April 2011.

A consultative ballot is underway with a recommendation from BECTU that the revised proposals be accepted. The consultative ballot closes at 12 noon on Thursday 6 May. 

Last week (15 April) it was confirmed that BECTU members had voted with compelling majorities to take strike action in protest at fundamental changes to terms and conditions. 

The strong results prompted early moves to return both sides to negotiations; talks restarted on 19 April and continued on 21 April with a full briefing to members inbetween. 

Management had sought to cut redundancy rights for staff accrued during service with the BBC, the previous employer. Any changes would also have impacted on the accrued rights of ex-Channel 4 staff who transferred to Red Bee in August 2008.

Plans to shelve staff rights to an extended period of consultation during redundancy consultations were also disputed by BECTU. The union has been working with the NUJ which is also recognised to bargain for the group.

Management's proposals for tax on transport during unsociable hours were also deeply unpopular

Summary of proposals under consideration

After talks with the recognised unions, the new proposals, if introduced, would:

  • future protect all redundancy rights accrued up until 30 June 2010;
  • introduce a new redundancy formula of two weeks' pay for each year of service accrued from 1 July 2010;
  • provide for a minimum 60 days redundancy consultation in addition to contractual notice;  
  • guarantee the new redundancy policy for a minimum of two years;
  • defer until April 2011 new rules on personal tax liability for late night and early morning transport;
  • give staff adversely affected by the policy changes the opportunity to seek a consensual termination of employment.

Setting out a full report to members as part of the new consultative ballot, union officials Gerry Morrissey and Helen Ryan wrote:

"We appreciate that under this proposal both management and the union members have made concessions. Some members may feel that the concessions by management are not enough.

"However, the clear mandate from the members' meeting was that we must secure protection of accrued redundancy terms and not accept statutory minimum consultation periods.

"Management have conceded on both of these issues and we are therefore recommending that you vote yes to accept the whole package."

Queries about the ballot? Members should contact their local officials or Helen Ryan, supervisory official.