NUJ warns of BBC News strike

Journalists at BBC News could go on strike within seven days if the corporation goes ahead with threatened compulsory redundancies, according to the NUJ's broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin.

The corporation announced on Tuesday that by the end of March next year it is set to make 108 jobs redundant in the news division. The move is part of director general Mark Thompson's three-year programme to cut £11 million from the budget.

The BBC has said it cannot rule out compulsory redundancies.

McLaughlin told Press Gazette: "The NUJ has an overwhelming mandate for strike action over any compulsory redundancies to table further action if necessary — we do not need any further ballots from members.

"The threat hanging over these cuts is no more than seven days away. The NUJ has managed to avoid any compulsory redundancy for members in this entire exercise and that's what we will be intent on maintaining."

According to one well-placed source, journalists' posts on Newsnight, unspecified Radio 4 programmes and Five Live are to be cut.

The source also predicted a scaling back of the foreign bureaux, with the exception of the Middle East, and further cuts to the network coverage in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as cuts in News Interactive, including the Action Network site.

McLaughlin said: "We've not seen the details of what they say they are reinvesting money into. Millions have been spent on a new technology project called Jupiter. That project has been doomed to failure and fraught with delays, overspending and technology not delivering what it is supposed to.

"The £11 million cuts are outweighed by the money they're wasting on technology which doesn't work. This is a predetermined savings plan which bears no relationship with the genuine needs of the audiences."

A BBC spokeswoman said of the technology, which includes 3D graphics designers and internet video delivery: "Our usage of Jupiter has increased sixfold in the past year. Over 70 per cent of BBC One news is now made and delivered via Jupiter.

"Like many technology packages, Jupiter has had teething problems, but it is working well and helping to deliver more great news stories to audiences, more efficiently."

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