'Why are we being treated differently?' Indian BBC journalists unhappy over redundancy terms

Three Indian BBC journalists have written to director general Tony Hall to complain about redundancy terms they were offered after refusing to relocate.

The trio – Lucknow correspondent Ram Dutt Tripathi, Hyderabad correspondent Mohammed Omer Farooq and Patna correspondent Manikant Thakur – were asked to move to Delhi as part of a restructuring process.

They refused and were offered redundancy terms that were “well below BBC policy”, according to the National Union of Journalists.

They wrote to Hall asking why the redundancy package was not equivalent to that offered to BBC staff in the UK.

The letter read: “Are we not BBC staff? Why are we being treated differently? Why are we being discriminated against?”

The BBC’s in-house magazine Ariel reports that the corporation’s policy is to offer severance terms on the same basis as colleagues in that particular country, rather than the equivalent to UK-based employees.

The restructuring of the BBC’s Indian operation affected five regional reporters, two of whom have taken jobs offered to them in Delhi.

The BBC said it is not closing any bureaux in the country as journalists were working from home. It assed that the process was not about cost-cutting and no jobs would be lost.

However, the NUJ condemned what it described as the closure of the regional offices.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The NUJ supports our BBC colleagues in India with their demands for an immediate halt to the entire process of closure of positions of regional correspondents of the BBC in India and urges the management to hold proper discussions to ensure a just and fair treatment with these senior journalists in accordance with the BBC's policies."

The Indian Federation of Working Journalists also offered its support to the reporters, criticising the BBC for “abruptly closing down all its bureaus in India”.

A spokesperson for BBC World Service said: “BBC Hindi is changing its reporting operations in India to meet the needs of its audiences across radio, the web and television for coverage across the whole of the country.

“We have been in discussions with the five staff affected since April; all of them were offered posts in Delhi, and two have taken up the new roles.

“The three who do not wish to move have been offered redundancy terms consistent with those offered previously to staff in India and in accordance with labour law guidelines – they were also offered the opportunity of a trial period in Delhi.”

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