WE WILL STRIKE TO STOP JOB CUTS – BECTU Assistant General Secretary

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‘If the job cuts are still on, the strikes will be reinstated,’ BECTU assistant general secretary Gerry Morrissey told News Line yesterday.

Speaking after the debate on the planned BBC cuts programme involving 4,000 sackings, at the BECTU annual conference in Liverpool, Morrissey confirmed BECTU was standing by the joint unions statement of last Tuesday, that if no agreement is reached in new talks with BBC Director General Mark Thompson, this ‘will result in the resumption of industrial action’.

Moving the BBC cuts motion, Bush House branch delegate, Dave Anson, said: ‘Let’s get serious about what he (Thompson) is doing here.

‘We’re facing privatisation redundancies – savage cuts to the language service, for example, which have still yet to be announced.

‘There are those who are facing their jobs being moved to Manchester.

‘Our members must continue to fight every single aspect of Thompson’s programme for the BBC.

‘We’ve got to continue to fight these cuts. We just do not accept this.’

BBC Belfast branch delegate, Mike Osborne, added: ‘I was out on the picket line last month.

‘The members on the picket were absolutely superb.

‘There was really good support. Mail was not delivered to the BBC. Food was not served in the canteen.’

He added in a note of warning: ‘But our Director-General’s strings are being pulled by our present government . . . and we’re funding the Labour Party that’s doing that.’

Proposition 18 – Cuts in Public Broadcasting, stated: ‘All divisions represented at this conference support the efforts of BECTU, as well as the other BBC unions’ officials, in the fight against the cuts which, if allowed to go ahead unchallenged, would have a serious impact on the whole broadcasting industry.’

Proposition 18 was backed unanimously, but discussion was cut short by the platform on the grounds that time was short and no one disagreed with the motion.

BECTU and the other BBC unions are meeting Director General Thompson on Wednesday for further negotiations.

Thompson agreed to meet the unions again after a meeting of BBC union representatives last Tuesday decided to reject the BBC ‘offer’ to put off the sackings for one year.

After the representatives meeting, the BBC unions – Amicus BECTU and NUJ – issued a joint statement which said the ‘dispute continues’ and ‘failure to reach agreement on the scale and impact of job cuts’ would ‘result in the resumption of industrial action’.

Earlier in the morning, BECTU union negotiator, Luke Crawley, told delegates that last month’s strike action had been ‘the most successful strike we’ve ever had at the BBC’.

He continued: ‘They’re proposing sacking 20 per cent of the staff, selling off Broadcasting and BBC Resources.

‘People recognised it was impossible.’

He expressed his confidence about the outcome of future negotiations, stating: ‘We’re having a further meeting with the Director-General on Wednesday.’

But following Crawley’s claim that ‘Mark Thompson is the best union recruiter we’ve ever had’, Camera branch delegate Peter West warned: ‘How many of these members are we likely to retain if Mark Thompson gets his way?’