Union outrage as TV giant threatens jobs

An HR director at one of the UK’s most successful companies has been accused
of threatening job losses if staff vote for union recognition.

British Sky Broadcasting group HR director Craig McCoy said in a letter to
staff that the company would consider outsourcing its call centre operation if
a vote for recognition of the broadcasting union Bectu was successful.

The move sparked union outrage and comes just days before the DTI releases
its White Paper on the review of the Employment Relations Act that could boost
union recognition powers.

In the letter to more than 5,000 call centre staff in Scotland, McCoy
claimed recognition of the union would damage the firm’s competitiveness. He
stated: "We are prepared to consider alternative business models including
outsourcing if we feel that our productivity and profitability are threatened.
I would urge you to think carefully before signing any paper which puts job
security at risk."

McCoy would not comment, but a spokesman for BskyB said the letter explained
to employees the commercial impact union recognition would have. He denied
union claims that the letter was threatening.

The row between BskyB – which has just announced a 126 per cent growth in
operating profit – and Bectu, is the latest chapter in the union’s year-long
campaign for recognition.

The TUC’s employment policy officer, Sarah Veale, was hopeful the Employment
Relations Act White Paper would include measures preventing such behaviour in
recognition disputes.

This could include giving the Central Arbitration Committee powers to impose
recognition where employers are judged to have acted unfairly.

By Quentin Reade

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