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Unions hold to ballot on Granada pay offer

Members of BECTU, NUJ and Amicus are voting on a 3% pay offer from Granada Media.
If the controversial offer is rejected, there could be a further vote on industrial action in the seven ITV companies owned by the group.
Granada's offer comes after this year's pay talks were delayed from January to July as the company made cuts in response to a slump in TV advertising revenue.
Management have now made a 3% pay offer which changes the pay anniversary date to October and is linked to a new package of benefits for staff, which includes some improvements, but would close the company's final salary pension scheme to new members.
The offer also includes a backdated rise of 2% to cover the period from July 2002 to October when the 3% rise would take effect across all Granada's ITV licencees - Granada itself, LWT, Yorkshire TV, Tyne Tees, Anglia, Meridian, and Border.
Some parts of the benefits package have been welcomed by the unions - the introduction of family friendly policies, an improvement in freelancers' rights, and better terms and conditions for fixed term contract staff all represent a step forward according to negotiators.
However, the threatened closure of the Granada pension scheme to new staff has been criticised by the unions - the replacement money purchase scheme will not offer comparable benefits, even though the company plans to contribute to it.
Staff are also worried about the change of some existing benefits - like long term sick pay - being changed from contractual rights to non-contractual entitlements which could, in theory, be cancelled without full negotiation. Granada said that this move was necessary to harmonise the various agreements on staff rights which it inherited as it gradually bought out almost half the ITV network.
The new benefits package also cuts sick pay for long-established staff by up to 50%, and ends the company's share and saving scheme.
Representatives from Granada companies will meet on October 16 to consider the outcome of the ballot, and may call for an industrial action ballot if members reject the pay offer.
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