NUJ: BBC 'sensible' to target management 'chiefs' in latest round of job cuts

The National Union of Journalists has described the BBC’s 1,000 management-targeted cuts as “sensible”, contrasting them with a decade of job losses further down the corporation.

The cuts, announced by director general Tony Hall this morning, are expected to see people in the highest grades of employment at the BBC lose their jobs.

The corporation said that the 1,000-plus job losses would help save £50m and that this was necessary after a £150m "shortfall" in funding for 2016/17 was discovered.

“It’s about simplification, rationalisation – I actually think a lot of it is sensible. It’s about fairness,” NUJ broadcasting organiser Sue Harris told Press Gazette.

“Job cuts are never happy, but having had a decade of job cuts of, in my view, the Indians [as opposed to the chiefs], there’s elements now that the unions have actually been listened to.”

The unions were briefed on the job cuts before Hall announced them to staff at 10.30am today. Harris said: “From what we were hearing, the actual job cuts have not been defined yet – that will take place in the next few months [and] consultation is likely to start in the autumn.

“I’d never wish job cuts on anyone, really. But given that the efficiency [saving scheme] that the rest of the organisation has gone through, it needs to be fairly applied right across the board. And that’s what they seem to be doing.”

Last summer, BBC director of news and current affairs James Harding announced that around 400 jobs would be lost in the BBC News division under the Delivering Quality First cuts scheme. A further 75 jobs in the division were cut in the 2013/14 financial year, and 140 in 2012/13.

The message from the NUJ was also that the BBC requires enough funding to sustain its quality. General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "News of the significant budget deficit should be a wake-up call for all those who care about public service broadcasting in the UK.

"The looming negotiations on charter renewal will be a critical juncture for the BBC – without a new deal that modernises the licence fee and provides for a real-terms increase the BBC as we know it, a world-respected broadcaster and a key driver of the entire British creative industry, will be unable to function.

"This is why the NUJ, together with the Federation of Entertainment Unions, has launched the Love it or Lose it campaign." 

In a statement this morning, she said: "The NUJ has been pressing for a restructuring of the BBC that prioritises journalism and programming for some time, one that tackles the fleshy layers of management that have been preserved in the face of waves of cuts that have badly hit grassroots content. So a hard look at how to best deploy resources on the services that really matter and make sure the BBC’s structures are efficient and fit for purpose is overdue.

“To date, Delivering Quality First, the cost cutting programme which has reduced the news budget by a quarter, has hit journalist jobs and programming. It's taken this deficit for the BBC to move to tackling the management layers that have made many staff feel like it's one BBC for them, and a very different BBC for those running the corporation.”

She also noted that the 1,000 job cuts account for £50m of the £150m shortfall, and said that this is “concerning”.

She added: "We will work with our sister unions to ensure that the redeployment process is made to work prop and that compulsory redundancies are avoided.

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