Union jopes to avoid compulsory staff cuts at BBC

By Wale Azeez and Paul Donovan

The NUJ says it hopes to avoid compulsory redundancies at the BBC after the corporation announced plans to cut newsgathering staff.

The BBC has revealed that there will be compulsory redundancies among the 61 staff forced to leave to meet budgetary requirements.

It is cutting jobs from its news operation as part of an ongoing efficiency drive to meet the £490m licence-fee settlement agreed in 2000. The cuts are aimed at saving £12m from news operations as part of the overall drive to save £160m across the corporation.

“Hopefully, job losses will mainly come about through voluntary redundancy, but there will be some compulsory redundancies,” said a BBC spokeswoman.

However, Paul McLaughlin, national broadcast organiser at the NUJ, said the union was opposed to any obligatory cuts and had been informed that the demand for voluntary redundancy was already oversubscribed.

“We are committed to avoiding compulsory job losses and the BBC is well aware we will act to defend this position,” he said this week.

“The BBC has identified a need to make savings, but hasn’t made the final decision. It will need to get approvals for that sign-off in terms of their own structures,” he added.

The NUJ is due to meet with the BBC again in mid-February.

Coverage of September 11, the war on terrorism and the Bali bombing caused an overspend in the news budget last year.

However, the NUJ was informed during discussions with the BBC that the cuts are in line with savings initiated by director general Greg Dyke in a bid to free up more resources for programme making. It was also told that rising rents on property occupied by the BBC, and a forthcoming 1 per cent rise in employer National Insurance contributions, have also contributed to the drive to make savings.

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