Journalists at BBC begin work to rule in protest at plan for 500 to lose their jobs

National Union of Journalists representatives at the BBC have agreed to start a 'work to rule' in protest at job cuts and have threatened to walk out on strike of talks with management prove fruitless.

Head of BBC News James Harding announced in July that 415 jobs would be cut  from his division, affecting 500 people (when job shares are taken into consideration).

In an NUJ ballot, which closed today, 86.9 per cent of members who voted were in favour of action short of a strike and 73.6 per cent voted for action including strike action.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

NUJ members see this as a battle for the heart and soul of the BBC. Our members know that these cuts are being targeted in the wrong direction – instead of sorting out managerial excesses and waste, it is grassroots journalism and programming facing the axe. It will be impossible for journalists to produce quality journalism of the kind they strive to unless output is similarly hacked, without serious damage being done to our members’ health and wellbeing.

Morale is at a record low, with staff working in an atmosphere described by one journalist as one of ‘fear and loathing’. Added to a process which is being mismanaged and where individuals are being treated appallingly, in a manner that is fundamentally inhumane, and the public will understand why NUJ members are saying enough is enough.

This dispute can be sorted out easily if the BBC wants to, which is why we are seeking the intervention of the director general. If we cannot reach a sensible settlement NUJ members stand prepared to take strike action in the coming weeks and months in order to bring their campaign to the attention of the broader public, who share our members’ desire for a public service broadcaster that serves the interests of licence fee payers, not its executives.”

Here is the BBC reps’ resolution:

This meeting of BBC M/FoCs condemns the current plans on redundancy, cuts and external recruitment as laid out in the terms of the recent ballot for industrial action.

The overwhelming result of the industrial action ballot demonstrates how strongly NUJ members feel about the ongoing implementation of cuts and redundancies that are impacting on our ability to produce quality content across the BBC.

That hundreds of people have formally expressed their interest in taking voluntary redundancy because they longer want to work at the BBC is indicative of the poor morale existing throughout the corporation. We believe this is the direct result of cutting frontline staff whilst increasing senior management roles, resulting in overwhelming workloads and the diversion of scarce funds to lavish senior manager pay and perks.

The existence of such a large number of individuals seeking voluntary redundancy means that the BBC has no excuse not to immediately provide assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

This meeting also calls for an immediate recruitment freeze until this dispute is satisfactorily resolved, to ensure that licence fee payers’ money will not be wasted on needless redundancies that could be avoided through redeployment.

We condemn the BBC’s breaches of its own policies and call on BBC News to belatedly follow its own procedures and enter into the Avoidance of Disputes procedure as invited to do so by the NUJ on 24 July.

It is the clear view of this meeting that this dispute is capable of easy resolution on the BBC’s part. We therefore call on the Director General, Tony Hall and the newly appointed Head of HR, Valerie Hughes-D'Aeth, to hold urgent talks with the NUJ on finding a way forward which would provide the necessary guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies, as a result of the current proposed job cuts or the few outstanding cases from earlier DQF proposals.

Until this dispute is resolved, the NUJ withdraws its goodwill – the union will not agree to any changes in current workloads, will not discuss any proposal to take on extra work, nor discuss changes to rotas and job descriptions. It also agrees to immediately give the required seven day legal notice of a boycott of appraisals and a work to rule across the BBC.

If agreement on this dispute is not reached, the NUJ will have no choice but to call strike dates as part of a campaign of industrial action.

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