READY TO STRIKE! – after BBC Director General announces 2,800 redundancies

NUJ and BECTU members during strike action against cuts at the BBC in May, 2005
NUJ and BECTU members during strike action against cuts at the BBC in May, 2005

Broadcasting and journalism unions BECTU and the NUJ said yesterday they are bracing themselves for the launch of strike action to defend jobs and quality services at the BBC.

This is in response to Director General Mark Thompson’s cost-cutting plans put to the BBC Trust yesterday, which include 2,800 job cuts.

A BECTU spokeswoman told News Line: ‘BBC sources are saying the Corporation will be calling for volunteers for redundancy on Friday.

‘If this is the case, we would see this as an act in bad faith and as a hostile act.

‘We’d have no alternative at our meeting with the joint unions at 12 noon tomorrow than to decide to ballot for strike action.’

A number of NUJ members demonstrated outside Broadcasting House yesterday morning as the BBC Trust met to make final decisions on the plans for cuts resulting from the lower than expected licence fee settlement.

The NUJ accused the BBC Trust of failing in its duty to protect core BBC services after they unanimously backed a £2bn cost-saving plan.

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: ‘If the Trust really believe quality news and current affairs is at the heart of what the BBC does and viewers say such programmes are what they value most about the BBC, it makes no sense to sack hundreds of staff in these core services.

‘It is an abdication of the Trust’s responsibility to rubber stamp plans which will undermine quality and lead to the sacking of front line staff.

‘It is inevitable, anger will grow and calls for strike action will get louder.’

He warned: ‘If there are compulsory redundancies we will have no choice but to ballot for industrial action.’

The BBC joint unions will meet with Director General Mark Thompson at 7.30am this morning before he makes an announcement to all staff at 10am.