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11/10/2000

UNION MEMBERS TO VOTE ON 3SIXTYMEDIA OFFER

BECTU union members affected by the creation of Granada Media and BBC joint company ‘3sixtymedia’ are to hold a mass meeting on October 18.
At the meeting, management’s full offer on terms, for those who are expected to transfer to new company agreements, will be outlined by negotiators.
Jointly owned by Granada and BBC 3sixtymedia plan to take over 351 staff from their parent companies, 250 from Granada and 71 from the BBC. Although the transfer is covered by the TUPE regulations which provide some protection for terms and conditions when workers are transferred into new companies, the union has been in discussion with 3sixtymedia for several weeks regarding longer-term guarantees on pay and overtime rates, pensions, and redundancy rights.
Both Granada and the BBC have agreed to allow any transferring staff on permanent contracts to remain in their respective company pension schemes. However, the BBC have gone further by promising that any fixed-term contract staff who transfer will be able to join the full BBC pension scheme once they complete three years employment, as if they had stayed at the Corporation.
Granada have said that some of the 97 fixed-term contract staff they planned to transfer into the new company would eventually be able to join Granada's pension scheme, but would not specify the number until the new company had determined how many of them could be guaranteed long-term employment.
Redundancy rights for BBC staff have been guaranteed at the payment levels in the current union agreement, but the Corporation have refused to underwrite the payments, posing problems for staff if 3sixtymedia runs into financial trouble.
Conversely, Granada has refused to guarantee any fixed level of redundancy pay, arguing that their arrangements have always been custom and practice rather than written agreements, but have acknowledged that if 3sixtymedia declares redundancies in the future, then Granada as parent company have a responsibility to ensure that payments are made.
One complication that emerged during discussions was the question staff based at Granada's studio centre in Manchester, who work for GSkyB, an of-shoot which produces programmes for digital and satellite TV stations.
Pay rates in GSkyB are generally lower than those in the main Granada facilities operation, and there has traditionally been an understanding that the multi-skilled GSkyB workforce would not do work on productions destined for terrestrial Television.
Recently, though, GSkyB won a commission to produce a programme for the main ITV network, posing fears among members due to join 3sixtymedia that they could be undercut by their lower-cost, multi-skilled, colleagues.
Pay rates also became an issue when 3sixtymedia relationship with freelancer staff was raised in talks. The new company was unwilling to commit to pay the agreed PACT minimum rates to freelancers on all occasions.
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