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The News Line: Feature BECTU AND NUJ MEMBERS CONDEMN CATERING SACKINGS
One hundred BECTU and NUJ members rallied outside Bush House for the reinstatement of the sacked workers
ONE HUNDRED BECTU and NUJ members demonstrated outside Bush House in Aldwych, Central London last Friday, in support of ten workers sacked from the BBC World Service canteen.

BECTU and the NUJ issued a joint statement, saying: ‘The BBC has failed to consult meaningfully with the recognised trade unions over the reduction to the catering provision at Bush House, and despite the serious concerns the joint unions have raised, management has gone ahead and imposed cuts in catering provision.

‘The sacking of Aramark workers has come about as a result of cuts in catering provision.

‘It is morally repugnant for low paid catering workers to be treated in such an appalling fashion.’

The statement went on: ‘The BBC has imposed a reduction in the provision of catering services and Aramark have sacked staff as a result of this, including two elected BECTU representatives.’

The unions organised Friday’s mass protest and a boycott of the canteen for the day.

Sacked worker Joyce Danso told News Line: ‘They are using refurbishment as an excuse to make us redundant.

‘I’ve worked here for nine years as a general assistant and over these nine years I’ve worked for four different contractors. I’ve been moved from contractor to contractor. The last one was Compass and they moved us to Aramark and now this has happened – it’s terrible.

‘We are all very angry and determined to beat them. We are not going to just let them get away with it.’

Fellow sacked worker and Bectu member Ernest Omane said: ‘I joined the BBC at the same time as Joyce. I’ve always worked hard and done my job very well.

‘We are proud so many of our BBC colleagues and fellow Bectu members came out here to support us today, and the NUJ.

‘Now we need more action. The unions shouldn’t let it drop because if they get away with it to us they will do it to everyone.

‘On 23rd October, Aramark just said get out! After nine years! Not even a card, or a handshake, or a goodbye.’

Ash Akram said: ‘I’ve been with the company five years – two of them as head chef.

‘When I first came they set a target to bring up the standard of food, which I did.

‘I received two awards – one bronze, one silver – one for great customer service, the other for high quality food.

‘It’s absolutely disgusting the way they’ve gone about things.

‘There are ten of us. We are very tight-knit and determined to win justice.

‘They are heartless and ruthless and we are going to beat them. Of course, the BBC are partly to blame as well, they are the ones who brought these private contractors in and they are the ones who are trying to make them cut their costs.’

Tanya Pearson said: ‘I’ve worked here for six years and they’ve made sure that my family and myself are not going to have a pleasant Christmas.

‘It’s heartless of them and spiteful. They didn’t even have the decency to offer me alternative employment.

‘Aramark is a massive company worldwide and so I find it very hard to believe they couldn’t find me a suitable alternative.

‘All I’d like to say to Aramark is thanks for being so kind and caring to my children – not!’

Nuala O’Sullivan, a writer for BBC Learning was one of those who came out to support the sacked workers. She told News Line: ‘The provision in the canteen has got worse. There are no longer hot meals through the night.

‘Ten workers were brought into a room and told pack your bags. It’s a disgrace and it represents a threat to all BBC workers.

‘All these workers must be reinstated.’

BECTU General Secretary Tony Lennon told the rally: ‘These are not highly paid workers at all.
Aramark pay wages at or only just above the minimum wage.

‘This is in marked contrast to the fantastic wages they pay themselves.

‘We condemn the company for the changes in the canteen opening hours and the deterioration in the range of food.

‘We are demanding the canteen services are restored and the people who Aramark have sacked, who have been working at the BBC for years, are reinstated.

Mark Workman of the National Union of Journalists, told the rally: ‘You have full support from the journalists in Bush House.

‘Aramark may have pulled the trigger, but Mark Thompson (BBC Chief Executive), on £800,000 a year, gave the orders.

‘This is a spiteful, ill-thought-out move and the NUJ at Bush House will stand alongside you until justice is done.’

Pat Styles, Bectu National Officer, said: ‘Ten of our members have been dismissed – allegedly made redundant.

‘We are going through appeals, but the company is making it as hard as they can. They are actually banning those they have sacked from coming in and bringing in their appeal forms.

‘We are in dispute with the BBC and it’s a wider issue. Aramark deliver catering services across the BBC and this could be the first of many cuts.

‘We are determined to get justice for our members.’

He added: ‘The BBC has failed to consult meaningfully with us about the proposed changes to catering provision at Bush House, and despite the serious concerns we have raised, management has imposed a cut in the service.

‘On the same day as these reductions were imposed we also discovered that Aramark had dismissed several of our members, including some of our elected representatives.’

BECTU officer Helen Ryan, said: ‘What has happened to our members is absolutely disgusting. Aramark has not given any consideration to redeployment opportunities, or other suitable alternatives to dismissal, and our members were called in one by one last week and told that when the Bush House restaurant reopened after its refurbishment they would not be needed. This is no way to treat anybody.

‘We are seeking meaningful negotiation and consultation with the BBC regarding the provision of catering services to our members working at Bush House.

‘We are calling upon Aramark to reinstate the sacked workers whilst proper negotiations and meaningful consultation takes place.’
 
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