The purpose of his meeting was to discuss the company's recent announcements to further reduce headcount and close the Defined Benefit pension scheme to future accrual.
A robust discussion took place in which Prospect made it clear to the company our concerns with the lack of notice provided to the union on the announcement, the concerns members had expressed about information being circulated which gave the impression that decisions had been made in advance of any consultation taking place, the long term viability of the company and the company's commitment to engaging with it's workforce.
In response the company reiterated it's commitment to maintaining a good relationship with Prospect. The company provided assurances that no decisions have been made with regards to the proposals - either the redundancies or the pension scheme - currently under discussion and have committed to investigate the examples provided by Prospect which suggested otherwise. The company understand our concern regarding the future of the business - they indicated this is unlikely to be the last time that they review their cost base but could not comment on whether future reviews would have a similar impact on employees. It is clear that the company's future stability will be determined by the speed at which it can grow it's activity in the new media space but this cannot be accurately predicted given the current economic environment. We will continue to monitor this very closely over the coming weeks as we have been over the previous months.
The exact numbers and business units affected will be subject to a formal period of consultation, which is likely to last up to 30 days, between the company and the unions.
This consultation commenced immediately after the meeting outlined above. It was agreed at that meeting that the previously agreed Restructuring Policy, which sets out the process for dealing with such situations, including the process for selection of individuals/groups affected and the company's commitment to re-training and redeployment will continue to apply and will govern the company's approach to this restructure. The policy and its related process can be viewed by clicking onthe links ot the right of this page. Given the circumstances we would urge all members to familiarise themselves with the terms of this policy.
It was agreed that there would be no change to the redundancy terms that have been made available to individuals previously and this was welcomed by Prospect.
It was agreed that consultation on the detail of the company's plans would take place on a departmental basis, commencing Monday of next week, 18th October. Once departmental plans have been shared, and subject to agreement with Prospect and those other elected workplace representatives, communication to those whose role is considered within scope for potential reduction could commence as early as Monday afternoon. However all representatives will need to agree that the proposals seen by them represent the best achievable resolutions to the challenges faced before this can take place. Once communication to those in scope has taken place individual consultation will commence and the options available to people will be discussed at the appropriate time.
We are aware that a number of members will be very concerned about the company's proposals with regards to the final salary scheme. Prospect take very seriously any proposal to change members pension arrangements and we have a good track record in negotiating pension agreements with other companies in the industry, including in BT. The company indicated yesterday that their proposals regarding the final salary scheme - and what might replace the accrual of future benefits in it - were not yet fully formed and consultation would not commence on those for some weeks yet.
Prospect are aware that members are looking at those proposals to inform other decisions they may need to make but it may not be possible to know what those proposals look like before the consultation on redundancies is complete.
Remember we are here to support you;
We are aware that this will be a very difficult time for members but you should be assured that we will communicate further details with you as this process proceeds and as soon as they are available.
We have arranged an all-members meeting so that we can discuss all of these issues with you on Monday 25th October (venue tbc) and would encourage you to attend that.
Members should be reassured that all parties are committed to working together to minimise the effects of these changes as far as possible. Remember that Yell value their relationship with Prospect.
Your branch representatives are here if you need to talk about the effect of this on you personally - please contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org alternatively you can contact me at email@example.com or on 020 8971 6034.
Remember Prospect have clear policies relating to the type of assistance that can be provided to individuals who join the union with an existing issue. Existing members receive priority and a wider level of service than those who join with an issue. So if you have colleagues who are not already members they can join here.