BBC talks break down as unions call strike vote

The BBC has dropped talks with unions at a national level after the corporation was balloted for strike action last week.

But divisional talks between the corporation and members of the NUJ and Bectu in areas such as BBC News and BBC Vision are set to continue.

The unions balloted for strike action after details emerged of the shortfall between proposed post closures and those who have expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy.

In BBC Vision, the corporation’s

factual programmes and features department, 303 staff have volunteered to go, well short of the 440 the corporation is seeking, according to unions.

In BBC News, 343 staff have volunteered for redundancy, above the BBC’s target figure of 321.The BBC could still reject some of the volunteers’ applications for redundancy.

The BBC has said that of the 1,260-strong workforce in Scotland, it would seek 230 post closures – on top of a further 30 yet to be culled under the 2004 Value for Money strategy.

Leaders of the NUJ and Bectu decided to ballot their 10,000 members for industrial action on the proposed 2,500 job cuts across the BBC after meeting last Thursday.

The result of the ballot, which will run throughout December, will be known on 9 January. Strike action could take place within seven days of this date.

l The BBC is to transfer almost 20 London-based World Service jobs abroad. The Hindi service in London will see the closure of 15 jobs, but with 22 new positions created in Delhi. A new bureau will be created in the Indian city and all radio and online content will be broadcast from there.

The Nepalese service will have four jobs closed in London but is opening four in Kapmandu.

A BBC World Service spokesman said: ‘The idea is to get our journalists closer to national stories, gather material quickly and provide high quality packages from the field.”

The BBC said it hoped to introduce the changes over the next six to nine months, dependant on discussions.

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