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30/07/2004

ITV urged to re-think Manchester cuts

Unions are waiting to hear if ITV will accept their counter-proposal to 59 job cuts at Manchester facilities house 3sixtymedia.
In a bid to avoid compulsory redundancies, Bectu and Amicus have offered to enter negotiations over the next two months on proposals for flexible working at the company.
Management are being asked to agree, in return, that there would be no compulsory redundancies to meet a target of 59 post closures that 3sixtymedia says are necessary in the face of falling workloads.
The company, a joint venture now owned by ITV, which took over more than 300 technical and operational staff from Granada TV and the BBC in November 2000, has not won the new programme-making work anticipated when it was first set up.
Instead of filling studios at Granada's Quay Street production centre in Manchester with new shows, 3sixtymedia has depended on traditional ITV stalwarts like ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ for business.
As a result more than half the original workforce had been ‘managed out’ before the most recent job cuts proposal.
Unlike previous savings plans, company management are this time looking for changes in terms and conditions, and cuts in pension rights, on top of the 59 planned redundancies.
Volunteers for redundancy have been sought after initial negotiations over the job cuts, but union stewards at 3sixtymedia fear that the target will not be met, posing the threat of compulsory dismissals at the end of August.
An industrial dispute is likely to be declared by unions if management turn down their counter-proposal, which promises ‘good faith’ negotiations on flexible working, provided the company signs up to no compulsory redundancies, no cuts in basic pay, and protection of pension benefits.
Members at the company have already authorised union officials to run a ballot for industrial action if no progress is made in talks to avert compulsory job cuts.
3sixtymedia, providing studio, design, postproduction, and other facilities to television programme-makers, is jointly owned by ITV, the majority shareholder, and the BBC, with a 20% stake. Despite eventually agreeing the terms on which staff from Granada and the BBC would transfer to the new venture, Bectu has warned from the company's earliest days that, without guarantees of work from its owners, 3sixtymedia could run into trouble.
ITV, created by the merger of Granada and Carlton, is consolidating programme production in three English centres, one of them Manchester. This, coupled with the BBC's medium-term plan to move some London programme departments up the M6 to Manchester, has led Bectu to propose that the easiest solution to problems at 3sixtymedia would be to re-integrate the remaining staff back into the broadcasters they originally came from.
Bectu is expecting a response to the union counter-proposal within the next week.
(GB)
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