Insiders claim the mood in BBC newsrooms has become increasingly angry over plans to enforce compulsory job cuts that could see veteran journalists such as Newsnight’s Michael Crick and Martha Kearney facing the sack.
NUJ representatives from across the BBC have unanimously backed strike action in response to the corporation’s refusal to back down on plans for up to eight journalists to be made redundant.
A senior BBC journalist told Press Gazette: ‘We are hopeful, even at this late stage, that the management can come up with alternatives that avoid the need for compulsory redundancy. ‘We are all facing the future with some trepidation after the licence fee settlement and we would rather be facing the future issues alongside management, rather than against them. ‘But [Tuesday’s] meeting left me in no doubt that the mood nationally is very angry about the compulsory redundancies.’The atmosphere at this week’s meeting is understood to have been ‘very militant”. Two out of the 15 correspondents at Newsnight face losing their jobs.
As the NUJ needs to coordinate with Bectu over the duration of any possible strikes, no dates or timescales have been confirmed, but it is understood that any potential industrial action would be of either 24 or 48 hours.
Over 100 staff within BBC News are understood to be seeking voluntary redundancy under the current wave of staff cutbacks across the corporation.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said of the compulsory job cuts: ‘It’s either incompetence or intransigence – a deal is there to be done, but BBC managers are seeking to heap misery upon misery by pushing through compulsory job cuts and thereby provoking strike action. It’s a poor way to run the world’s leading public service broadcaster. BBC staff and licence-fee payers deserve better.’The BBC responded by saying: ‘We note the NUJ’s position with regret but we have an obligation to licence fee payers to implement our value for money efficiency savings. ‘The BBC remains committed to trying to achieve these savings without the need for compulsory redundancies and we are still talking to the NUJ and other broadcasting unions about how this might be achieved. ‘The stance the NUJ is taking is particularly disappointing, given that the BBC and its unions have been working extremely hard together to achieve as much as possible through voluntary means and the vast majority of the value for money post closures achieved to date [more than 1,500] have not been through compulsory redundancy.”