BBC journalists to ballot for strike over axed jobs

By Caitlin Pike

BBC staff across the UK are expected to express their outrage over
the 4,000 job cuts by voting in favour of widespread strike action.

In a meeting with joint unions this week BBC director general Mark
Thompson refused to guarantee there would be no compulsory redundancies.

The BBC agreed to a 90-day period to continue talks.

NUJ
general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “All we wanted was meaningful talks
with BBC managers but they simply and contemptuously refuse to
negotiate.

“We are disappointed they will not even put their
plans on hold whilst talks take place. They have left staff no option
but to take action.”

Dear told this weekend’s NUJ conference in
Scarborough: “A 24-hour BBC-wide stoppage will be the first stage in a
campaign of concerted action.”

Ballot papers will go out next
Thursday (21 April), the same day the NUJ is starting a national tour
campaigning against the cuts.

A BBC insider told Press Gazette that support for strike action will be strong.

“I
think management delayed meeting with unions thinking that the level of
anger would dissipate but that is not the case. The anger is directed
in two directions, firstly at the fact that jobs at management and
bureaucracy level are untouched and secondly that there are no plans in
place for dealing with the extra workload remaining staff will face –
they have no idea what they are doing. The axe has been wielded
blindly.”

It is believed that of the 424 jobs to go from BBC
News, including 100 from news gathering, not all will go in 2005 and
the cuts will be spread over the three-year period of Thompson’s
costsaving plans.

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