New casualty as B-M's staff cuts cause anger

Just four weeks after making 13 senior staff redundant because the structure was too top-heavy, Burson-Marsteller has laid-off another senior staff member. He is James Harkness, managing director of the European change communication practice.

Just four weeks after making 13 senior staff redundant because the structure was too top-heavy, Burson-Marsteller has laid-off another senior staff member. He is James Harkness, managing director of the European change communication practice.

Harkness joined the agency less than a year ago (PRWeek, 25 February 2000) from Banner McBride, which he co-founded.

The change communication division is now realigned with corporate affairs, and overseen by Gavin Grant.

Staff who were made redundant before Christmas are unhappy with the way the situation has been handled. 'A lot of people are very, very, very angry,' said one source.

The dispute centres around payouts - those made redundant only received the statutory amount, regardless of seniority or length of service.

Lesley Bygraves, formerly a managing director in B-M's healthcare practice, told PRWeek the situation was 'beyond belief'.

She is unhappy because after five years' work in that role, she received only the statutory redundancy payout. In Bygraves' case this totalled pounds 1,725, which she described as 'absolutely nothing'.

'It was just enough to seek legal advice, and be told B-M was acting in their rights,' she said.

Bygraves had previously been at B-M for seven years, meaning she gave 12 years' service to the company. She now plans to freelance.

B-M London chief Allan Biggar declined to comment.

Meanwhile, B-M has followed its round of redundancies by creating a new managing director and hiring four recruits. The appointments are all in the new media division.

Jonathan Hargreaves is promoted from director to managing director of agency's e-commerce and new media practice. He is joined by director Simon Milton, previously at Biss Lancaster; senior associate Jill Reading, formerly at youth agency Beatwax Communications; senior associate Fay Darkins, who joins from BBC Worldwide; and associate Jeremy Apfel, who was at Independent Newspapers.

The new media division was not affected by last year's round of redundancies (PRWeek, 8 December 2000). It has experienced growth of 260 per cent since it was formed a year ago.

The team now has a staff of 20 - it had four when it began. Hargreaves said: 'We aim to become the most dominant new economy communications consult.'





Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in