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17/10/2002

Granada threatened with union backlash

The backlash against Carlton and Granada's merger plans has begun.
BECTU Assistant General Secretary Gerry Morrissey is threatening that the union will oppose the merger plan unless certain assurances on pay and conditions are met.
Union members in Granada are to be balloted on industrial action after rejecting a pay offer worth 2% over 21 months and linked to changes in other benefits.
If industrial action is approved when the ballot closes on November 25, disruption could hit Granada Manchester and Liverpool, LWT, Yorkshire TV, Tyne Tees TV, Border and Meridian.
Morrissey said: "The company refused to introduce a minimum annual salary of just £13,000, while at the same time finding it acceptable to pay one member of staff more than a million pounds a year".
Controversial changes in benefits, which were part of the pay offer, included the closure of the company's final salary pension scheme to new members, cuts in sick pay entitlement for staff with less than eight years' service, and a switch of maternity benefits from a guaranteed right to a discretionary benefit.
Concern over changes to the pension fund was heightened among staff when Granada`s annual report confirmed that full pension entitlements would still be available to senior executives who might be hired in the future.
ITV unions have written to Granada and Carlton in response to the merger announced last week, demanding assurances on jobs, regional programming and regional news, and have requested an urgent meeting to discuss this.
"The ballot for strike action is as much about the frustration of Granada staff across the company that they are not being listened to, as it is about pay and conditions of service," said Morrissey.
"Yet again staff believe that management is acting hypocritically in refusing to implement the most basic safeguards against poverty for the workforce while continuing to feather management's nest.
"In relation to pay, mergers or anything else, the viewers and staff come last and share value takes a much higher priority. They need to put money into programmes but they will not achieve high quality productions if they treat the programme-making staff in this way."
The unions have also accused Granada of ignoring their obligation to the regions, under the terms of their various ITV franchises. Transmission departments in Cardiff, Southampton and Norwich are facing closure, which representatives predict will lead to job losses and a concentration of transmission in London.
Ballot papers will be mailed to BECTU`s Granada members on November 11.
(GB)
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