BBC told to 'start listening' or face action

By Caitlin Pike

The BBC faces disruption on Monday when thousands of members of the
NUJ, BECTU and Amicus are due to walk out for 24 hours in the first of
four planned protests against 4,000 job cuts.

BBC unions announced dates for four days of strike action after
members of the NUJ voted 83.9 per cent in favour of striking over the
redundancies, more than 400 of which are expected to be journalists.

Staff
unions BECTU, the NUJ and Amicus are acting in unison on the stoppages
which are planned for 23 May (24 hours), 31 May/1 June (48 hours)n and
on a further date to be announced.

The action is likely to bring widespread disruption to planned programming.

NUJ
general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “The BBC must drop its opposition
to meaningful negotiations if it wants to avoid serious damage to
programmes.

“It is time for BBC management to stop lecturing staff and start listening to their concerns.

“It
is regrettable that it has come to this, but there is an easy way for
the BBC to avoid the chaos it has brought on itself – grant a 90-day
moratorium on the changes, guarantee that any necessary redundancies
are voluntary, protect the terms and conditions of any jobs that may be
outsourced or privatised and enter into proper negotiations with staff
unions.”

In a statement the BBC said: “We regret that the unions have decided to take industrial action.

“By
threatening the BBC’s output, the unions put at risk the BBC’s
relationship with the public which is not in anyone’s interest.

“Industrial
action will not remove the need for further consultation or the need
for the BBC to implement changes which will enable us to put more money
into improved programmes and services.

“We will, of course, do
everything we can to bring the best possible service to viewers and
listeners during any industrial action.”

NUJ members at News 24
are continuing the work-to-rule protest they have been maintaining for
the past month, refusing to work in more senior roles and taking all
protected holiday.

A source at News 24 said most members would
also be striking on Monday and on 31 May and 1 June, and thought that
presenters would also strike.

The channel’s output is likely to
be seriously disrupted during the strikes with management hoping to put
together a skeleton operation relying on “many tapes of Hardtalk” –
News 24’s current affairs interview show.

TUC backs strike action

BARBER ATTACKS GOVERNORS AFTER GRADE REFUSES TO MEET UNIONS

The TUC hit out at the BBC governors after they refused to meet the unions to discuss the job cuts.

The chair of the governors, Michael Grade, told TUC leader Brendan Barber he would not meet union representatives.

In
a letter to the TUC chief, Grade said: “It is inappropriate for the
governors to engage in formal or quasi-formal consultation with the
unions.”

Barber responded: “The TUC has long been a strong
supporter of the BBC. Trade unionists know the value of an independent,
impartial and authoritative news service alongside top-quality
entertainment. That is why we want to see the BBC strengthened in the
process of charter renewal.

“But that is not going to be achieved
with savage cuts, forced through at the expense of programme quality,
leading to a demoralised workforce. That’s why I am strongly backing
the joint unions’ campaign and the call for genuine negotiations on all
the proposed changes.”

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