17 03 09
NUJ members have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action against compulsory redundancies at the BBC. A number of members were at risk at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, but it is believed that deals have been struck, which are mutually acceptable. Other jobs facing the chop are in the BBC World Service and the union is calling for management to take a similar position to that of their Scottish counterparts and negotiate away from the threat of an all-out strike.
A mass meeting of The Daily Record & Sunday Mail chapel has voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action against the threat of compulsory redundancies. Because of legal deadlines of British employment law, the chapel had to give management seven days notice of their intention to ballot before the introduction of a selection process due to begin in two weeks time.
Despite the union having provided a list of nearly 50 potential redundancies and salary savings, it is not enough for MD Mark Hollinshead. Now management appear bent on moving towards selecting individuals for compulsory redundancy, to achieve their target of 70 job cuts.
Chapel officers are continuing to take part in the consultation process and are looking at proposed rotas and shift patterns. However it is believed that the first viewing has led to widespread consternation, with great concern at the levels of unsociable shifts being suggested.
The ballot papers will be sent out by Electoral Reform Society and should be arriving on members' doorsteps from Friday onwards, with a week to vote and return papers. Members are asked: a) not to throw the envelopes in the bin; b) don't put them in the company internal mail system; c) to vote and return by the deadline.
The Scottish Organiser met with Editor in Chief, Donald Martin and HR Manager Carole Mason on Friday evening to discuss a range of complaints. The grievances emanated from last week's union surgery to review the new contracts being offered to around 210 NUJ members. It is believed that a number of individuals have rejected the new offers and are seeking redundancy pay, while others are considering other options.
It appears to have been a relatively contructive meeting with some movement on behalf of a number of members. Areas where there was some progress included; agreeing flexibility on hours for some people with caring responsibilities; movement on some individuals' status and responsibilities.
It was agreed to let the system bed in for a couple of weeks before re-visiting the concerns about shifts and long hours.
Another major concern among many staff is the lack of movement into the "pay bands" with management claiming there is a clampdown on spending including restrictions on signing off payments over £100. It doesn't look likely that money will be readily provided to address what appear to be dozens of anomalies.
This is a growing concern for the NUJ with an increasing number of companies facing serious cash flow difficulties because of falling revenues.
SCOTTISH PROVINCIAL PRESS
The main newspaper publisher in the Highlands are not exempt from falling ad-revenues and are looking for members who might consider voluntary redundancies. However MD Roy Fox has told the NUJ Scottish Organiser that he is concerned that too many job cuts could damage editorial quality and is taking a cautious approach to editorial redundancies.
At least the politicians are now realising the problems facing the industry and the Scottish Affairs Committee have invited a number of leading figures to a hearing on March 31. Among those invited are Mark Hollinshead, Trinity MD, Donald Martin Editor in Chief, Newsquest and Paul Holleran NUJ Scottish Organiser.
Newsquest chapel members demanded action against the latest attacks on their pay and conditions. Over 60 members attended a union surgery to discuss wide-ranging grievances with their new contracts. The issues ranged from unfair use of the pay bands; new shifts and rotas which are far from family friendly; crazy appointments including demotions and promotions; longer hours with no breaks; data protection and many others complaining about the changes in the contracts in general including the drop in holidays and worse sickpay scheme.
Discussion was lively over the potential for individual and collective legal action and the ball started rolling on setting up a new chapel committee and reps.
There was much hilarity as members related their experiences of the new regime and the shambles of trying to get papers out on time at the end of a chaotic shift. However there were serious concerns as to the long hours being worked by some of the senior staff. Others reported on things such as the attempt to put reporting rotas together, including a suggestion by someone who should know better that if they work through their lunch everyday then he would TRY and give them every third Tuesday off in lieu.
Scottish Organiser, Paul Holleran has a meeting with management on Friday afternoon to raise the grievances and see if some of the worst excesses can be re-negotiated before we end up in court.
It appears that ACAS have been called in by management to see if the union is prepared to negotiate settlements on behalf of a number of members seeking redress at tribunals. This is a new approach and we await the initial talks with interest.
The NUJ have invited all their members at Newsquest in Glasgow to attend an all-day surgery to discuss their new contracts and working conditions.
The event will be held in the Holiday Inn (Theatreland) West Nile St. from 9am until 6pm. The union office has been inundated with calls and emails from members, concerned about a host of issues relating to the new contracts.
Scottish Organiser, Paul Holleran met with management on Tuesday morning to register a range of general complaints. However due to traffic problems in the Glasgow area the management team was a bit depleted. Another meeting is planned for Friday afternoon and Paul expects to have a longer list of issues to raise with the Editor-in-Chief and HR manager.
Meanwhile the Daily Record & Sunday Mail chapel are meeting again on Friday afternoon to discuss the progress of consultation over threatened redundancies and merging of titles. The union officers turned up for a meeting this morning only find that their counterpart was in London.
Paul was a bit more successful at his next meeting at BBC Scotland, where some progress was made in talks with managers, about individual cases. However the ballot papers for industrial action will be counted within the next seven days and strike action is on the cards in the fight against compulsory redundancies.
The Scottish Organiser is such a nice guy, we hope the absent managers aren't trying to give him a bodyswerve as there is much to discuss (to say the least).
The union is backing members who are refusing to accept the new contracts being offered by Newsquest. A growing number of staff are contacting the NUJ officials to demand action against the wide range of complaints about pay bands, new shift patterns and demotions among other things.
Rumours are also rife that Newsquest are about to make another interesting offer to staff. It appears they want people to accept a pay cut of around 2.5 hours a week or take a "furlough", which is a North American phrase for a week off without pay.
This is particularly interesting given that Newsquest staff in the Donald Martin Madhouse are already being asked to work another 2.5 hours a week as part of their new contractual paradise.
Have they ever heard of "the straw that broke the camel's back"?
In the meantime the union officers will be meeting with Trinity management on Friday morning to discuss progress on the restructure/redundancy talks. Monday diary page will be dominated by BBC Scotland talks as members wait for ballot papers against compulsory redundancies. Scotsman Publications restructuring talks start again midweek.
The Chinese proverb or curse "May you live in interesting times" was obviously aimed at the NUJ Scottish office 2009.