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09 November 2007

NUJ secures key concessions in AOL redundancy negotiations

Members at AOL have been involved in a redundancy process that is seeing the company cut more than half the editorial staff; reducing the number of journalists, designers and photo editors from 38 to just 17.

This is the third restructure of the editorial department in less than 12 months - and now the cuts are accompanied by the outsourcing of much editorial work to India.

Fortunately the NUJ was recognised here a couple of years ago following a tenacious campaign, and the union has able to marshal a strong defence of members' interests during the consultation process -- significantly mitigating the damage.

The union has negotiated a very strong severance package for those members who will be leaving, but our greatest achievement has been securing voluntary redundancies where possible, not just for journalists but across the whole organisation.

We have also successfully gained additional concessions for older colleagues, an extension of redundancy terms for the next year, greater flexibility on retraining allowances and a fairer scoring system for those who will be staying and competing for the remaining jobs.

The union has achieved significant gains which simply would not have been made if the workers had only been represented by the "Employee Forum".

Union reps are still joining members in their meetings with HR as the new organisation is implemented -- but the process has largely been running smoothly and both parties are working together in an attempt to minimise compulsory redundancies.

The whole process has greatly strengthened the chapel at AOL and convinced members of the value of collective representation.

Stacey King, FoC, AOL UK

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