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BECTU accuse BSkyB of 'dirty tricks'

BECTU have accused BSkyB of using underhand tactics to head off compulsory union recognition.
Days after the union won the right to hold a ballot on union recognition at the company, staff on their way to work in two Scottish call centres were allegedly met by managers urging them to sign a petition calling for a union-free workplace.
In an atmosphere described by some members as "intimidating", along with verbal threats that the call centres would be moved abroad if the union won recognition, several staff agreed to sign, and the company went on to claim that there was no support for the secret ballot that had been ordered by the Central Arbitration Council (CAC).
However, after a formal review this week, the CAC upheld its decision to conduct the ballot, in spite of BSkyB's claim that 53% of staff had signed the petition.
Managers and union officials now have 20 days to agree on the size of the "bargaining unit" in which staff will be balloted. The ballot was ordered after BECTU proved to the CAC that it had more than 10% of the workforce in membership, and over 50% of the entire staff supported the idea of a ballot on union recognition.
Earlier attempts to win recognition through discussion with the company met a stone wall, although at the time BSkyB said that it would observe the law of the land if its staff voted to allow the union in.
The petition-signing episode suggests that managers have now launched an intense campaign to prevent BECTU winning the right to represent staff in the Dunfermline and Livingston call centres, and follows failed attempts by the company to block the union's application to the CAC. Before deciding to run the ballot, the CAC heard from BSkyB that in its view the bargaining unit should include all 8,000 staff in the UK, including Osterley, even though the areas are managed separately.
BECTU is now hoping to start talks with BSkyB to define the bargaining unit, but is not optimistic about reaching agreement in light of the management's efforts to undermine the secret ballot.

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