NUJ set to take BBC news programmes off the air next week

BBC members of the National Union of Journalists are set to take part in a one-day national strike on Monday (18 February) unless the corporation agrees to end the threat of compulsory redundancies.

The 4,000-plus NUJ members at the corporation are due to start a nationwide rule to work this Friday.The union warned the corporation last week that a strike would be arranged unless the management redeploys staff under an agreed scheme.

It was also agreed last week that members from BBC Scotland, where there are a planned nine compulsory redundancies, would extend their work to rule, which they have been on since Friday 1 February.

According to the NUJ, while its representatives were fighting to save these nine jobs the BBC has been advertising for six, six-month contract jobs for journalists from outside the corporation.

“The BBC is prepared to waste public money on needless redundancies rather than secure redeployment opportunities for those at risk,” said NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet.

“This demonstrates the significant failures of some managers to uphold key aspects of the redeployment agreement, let alone the spirit of the deal.

“In the meantime we have meetings planned with the BBC next week and we want to engage in meaningful negotiations to resolve this dispute – I hope common sense prevails and a sensible solution is agreed which will mean that strike action is not necessary.”

Job losses are also expected at Newsbeat, Five Live, Big Screens, Asian Network and the World Service as part of the BBC’s Delivering Quality First cuts programme.

Previous strikes of NUJ members at the BBC have resulted in significant disruption of the news schedule, which has included taking the flagship Radio 4 news programme Today off the air.

In a letter to BBC members, who make up more than half of the editorial staffing, Stanistreet said:
 

As you know, your NUJ reps took a decision at their recent meeting to take industrial action. This follows the overwhelming vote by members to oppose compulsory redundancies by taking strike action if necessary.

Unfortunately, despite extensive efforts by your NUJ representatives and officials, there remain a number of your colleagues at risk of being forced out of their jobs by the end of March:  in BBC Scotland, the Asian Network, Newsbeat, News, Five Live, the Big Screens, the World Service and English Regions. After months of negotiations with BBC Scotland management, NUJ reps fighting to secure the jobs of nine of their colleagues discovered that six jobs were being externally advertised, offering six-month contracts to journalists who do not work for the corporation. The BBC is prepared to waste public money on needless redundancies rather than secure redeployment opportunities for those at risk.

This demonstrates the significant failures of some managers to uphold key aspects of the redeployment agreement, let alone the spirit of the deal.That is why – once again – the NUJ is asking members to stand shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues facing the needless loss of their jobs and take action. The decision to roll out a work to rule means that this will start on Friday 15 February 2013. Full guidance will be circulated to your local reps in advance.

In addition your reps voted to call a one day national strike – this will take place on Monday 18 February. This month the NUJ secured a victory for former BBC member Russell Maddicks in his tribunal case against the BBC for unfair dismissal. Like many other colleagues, Russell was forced out on compulsory redundancy despite there being other jobs and other available opportunities in the BBC. Don't let the BBC treat other members in the same way.

Support the strike and say NO TO COMPULSORY REDUNDANCIES.In the meantime we have meetings planned with the BBC next week and we want to engage in meaningful negotiations to resolve this dispute – I hope common sense prevails and a sensible solution is agreed which will mean that strike action is not necessary.

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