NUJ and Bectu to ballot members for strike action over planned job cuts across BBC News and World Service - Press Gazette

NUJ and Bectu to ballot members for strike action over planned job cuts across BBC News and World Service

The National Union of Journalists and broadcasting union Bectu are balloting members for strike action over planned job cuts at the BBC.

Head of BBC News James Harding earlier this month announced that 415 jobs were to be lost across his division. He said 500 people working for BBC News and the World Service would be affected and that 266 new posts would be created.

The NUJ said that most people affected by the cuts would be gone by April 2015 and that it is "concerned that the BBC has failed to give adequate assurances those in line will be eligible to apply for the new posts". 

Strike action over pay conditions, which would have coincided with the first day of the Commonwealth Games, was averted last week following an improved offer, which the NUJ is now considering in a consultative ballot.

But the NUJ has today suggested that strike action over job losses could affect “flagship events”, such as the Scottish Referendum, Last Night of the Proms and political party conferences.

The unions have asked for commitments on redeployment, a freeze on external recruitment and that 266 new posts being created would be available to those at risk of redundancy. An NUJ statement today said: “These plans would have prevented most of the jobs losses; but management would not agree.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

The NUJ and our sister unions have made great strides to improve and agree fair redeployment processes at the BBC, and we have negotiated clear policies intended to ensure fair and transparent recruitment procedures and pay grades. Yet News managers now believe these agreements can be blown out of the water because James Harding wants to bring in his own people to the BBC, whatever the cost and in the process get rid of the faces which no longer fit – all at the expense of licence-fee payers.

"The need to make cuts is the legacy of what everyone now accepts is the disastrous deal by former director general, Mark Thompson, to freeze the licence fee until 2017. However, these cuts as the current executive team plans them should not be a fait accompli. The unions have put forward plans which make them fairer and will prevent many talented, dedicated staff from being shown the door – and stopping public money being wasted on needless redundancies. Hiring from outside at the same time as making long-serving staff redundant is beyond stupid. Not allowing those who wish to leave to go, freeing up roles for positions being made redundant, is bad management. Creating new roles for managers at the same time as axing jobs for journalists and programme-makers shows the BBC has its priorities all wrong.

"There are plenty of other areas in which to make significant savings. The BBC's annual report showed that in the 12 months to the end of March, 12 executive staff received payments £2.76m between them and 59 senior staff members received payoffs totalling £7.13m. And the gravy train rolls on for senior executives, as they continue to recruit top-grade, top-pay posts and pay lavish perks at the same time as announcing cuts for the rest. Changing the approach to executive pay and perks would be ‘inhumane’ according to BBC bosses – you really couldn’t make it up, the gulf between those producing the journalism we all love about the BBC and those running the corporation gets ever wider.

"These cuts hit at the heart of programme-making. They undermine the efforts of those who are trying to put together innovative journalism at a time when huge events are unfolding on the international scene. Our members are clear that these cuts will destroy the unique voice of the World Service by merging news teams. For those left, it means long shifts and unacceptable workloads.

“This is the time for radical change at the BBC and a reframing of how our public service broadcaster is structured and run – targeting resources at grassroots programming rather than fleshy layers of management and perks for executives should be a no-brainer.”



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