'No confidence' claim over BBC jobs threat

By Hamish Mackay

More
than 150 staff at BBC Scotland have signed a statement of no confidence
in controller Ken MacQuarrie, in protest at his plan to cut 195 jobs.

And
MacQuarrie has been asked to appear before the Scottish Parliament’s
cross-party Culture and Media Committee on 11 May – only two weeks
after he and head of news and current affairs, Blair Jenkins, were
grilled by members of the parliament’s Enterprise and Culture Committee.

The
statement of no confidence, which was signed by senior executives
including Craig Williams, editor of Newsnight Scotland, was passed at a
meeting of members of three trade unions – the NUJ, BECTU and Amicus –
who were dismayed by what they called the “dismal” appearance of
MacQuarrie before the MSPs at Holyrood, when he said the job cuts were
non-negotiable.

BBC Scotland says the £10m savings from job cuts over three years will allow for a new tier of local news services by 2008.

The
statement read: “BBC Scotland staff applaud the intervention of the
Enterprise and Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament in
questioning the controller, Ken MacQuarrie, over his plans to cut jobs
and programmemaking capacity across BBC Scotland.

“Ken MacQuarrie
told the committee that none of the job cuts will affect programme
quality. BBC Scotland staff do not believe this is tenable.

“Events
since December 2004 also demonstrate his assertion that the BBC is
negotiating with the unions over these cuts is simply untrue. We state
now that we have no confidence in Ken MacQuarrie’s management.”

A country-wide ballot of BBC union members ends on 11 May.

Representatives
will meet on 12 May to discuss the next step. If the majority have
voted in favour, then the unions are required by law to give the BBC
seven days notice of any strike action.

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