THE NUJ and BECTU unions are to ballot BBC members over industrial action following the corporation’s announcement that 2,000 jobs are being axed including more than 600 journalism jobs.
The NUJ, BECTU and Unite tabled joint proposals on Friday which they said were aimed at conducting the consultation process in a ‘meaningful and transparent way”.
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These included withdrawing the 1 April deadline on changes to terms and conditions for new staff, a public examination into the plan to move factual programmes from Birmingham to Bristol, and ‘co-ordinated voluntary redundancy trawls’before the formal consultation beings.
The unions also demanded that no changes to allowances or pay and grading structures are made until the new licence fee period beings in 2017.
They claimed the BBC had rejected their demands and that ‘it intends to drive ahead with its planned schedule of cuts and its unreasonable timetable”.
‘It is vital that any consultation process that takes place over such major cuts across the BBC is genuine and meaningful – the NUJ is not prepared to accept a fait accompli,’said NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet.
‘These misguided cuts put the BBC’s very future as a world class public service broadcaster at stake. BBC executives and the Coalition government might not care about quality journalism and programming, but staff and members of the public care passionately about the corporation’s future.
‘It will be up to all NUJ members and the wider public to fight for our BBC and I urge everyone to do all they can to support our campaign.”
In a statement the NUJ said that it now had no choice but to ballot members for industrial action, and announced the joint unions will not take part in any formal union consultation meetings with the BBC on Delivering Quality First.
BECTU accused the BCC of holding a gun to the unions’ heads and said that if the corporation did not withdraw the planned implementation date of April 2012, a ‘yes’ vote in the ballot would see strikes before Christmas affecting highlights of the programme schedule such as Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
The BBC said it was ‘impossible’to meet the unions’ demands and that it was unwilling to let the issues ‘simply be kicked into the long grass and put off for another 5 years.’
The BBC’s director of business operations Lucy Adams said: ‘We are fully committed to a constructive dialogue with the unions about flexibility allowances and our pay and grading structure.
‘However we are at the earliest stage of talking these proposals through with our staff and have not even begun formal consultation with the trade unions.”