Unions will ballot for strike action tomorrow if the BBC begins to look for voluntary redundancies, as expected.
The NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said yesterday that letters asking for voluntary redundancies that had been dated for tomorrow made ‘a mockery’of any BBC suggestions of ‘meaningful negotiation and consultation’with the unions in the wake of its announcement on job cuts.
In its joint statement, the unions called the BBC’s actions ‘a provocative act’and said that unless letters to staff are withdrawn before 12 noon tomorrow they will initate an immediate ballot for strike action.
The unions have voted unanimously to ballot for strike action if the BBC does not work to limit the 1,800 redundancies announced today.
BECTU, NUJ and Unite have stated that they will act if the BBC does not ‘agree to a national framework to promote re-skilling rather than redundancy”.
The unions unanimously rejected the BBC’s request for divisional talks on the cuts until such time as there is a national framework agreement in place.
A total of 1,800 redundancies are planned within the next six years. An estimated 2,500 posts will go, with news and factual most affected. The BBC said that the gap between post closures and net redundancies will be met by new jobs.
Under BBC director general Mark Thompson’s proposals, the bulk of the redundancies will take place in the first two years, according to the unions. In a media briefing before he announced plans to BBC staff, Thompson said where changes are to be made, he will hope to implement them quickly.
Thompson has also announced plans to end unpredictability allowance (UPA) for all new staff from a date to be agreed early next year and the current preferable discounting arrangements on pensions for staff being made redundant will end on on 6 April 2010.
Senior representatives from the three joint unions met Thompson this morning, prior to his address to BBC staff.
Union reps are said to be outraged at what is perceived to be the BBC ‘failing to abide by its national agreements”. The unions said that ‘many members said they felt they were paying for management’s incompetence with their jobs”.