BBC under fire over cuts, job losses and mismanagement

By agency reporter
5 Feb 2013

BBC journalists have agreed to a corporation-wide 'work to rule' and strike action over compulsory redundancies imposed by the Corporation.

They are concerned about further damage being inflicted on the services provided by the BBC and loss of professional journalistic input as a result of short term management thinking and cost-cutting.

A meeting of National Union of Journalists (NUJ) officials agreed to extend a work to rule by Scottish members to UK-wide across the BBC.

The reps also agreed to take strike action, unless BBC management redeploys staff under an agreed scheme.

From Friday midnight on 8 February 2013, Scottish NUJ members in Glasgow, Edinburgh including the Scottish parliament and Selkirk in the Borders, will be on a work to rule. There are nine compulsory redundancies outstanding at BBC Scotland.

The NUJ action is also in response to planned compulsory redundancies at Newsbeat, Five Live, staff on the Big Screens, Asian Network and the World Service, the union says.

The job losses are part of the BBC's Delivering Quality First cuts programme which plans more than 2,000 job losses across the corporation.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, explained: "Our members are being forced to escalate action against these compulsory redundancies because of the lack of movement from management to properly use the redeployment system – this lack of engagement is particularly entrenched in BBC Scotland where nine members face losing their job at the end of March.

"Just last week a former NUJ rep Russell Maddicks won his case against the BBC for unfair dismissal – the industrial tribunal found fault with key elements of the BBC's processes and procedures. Russell lost his job despite there being suitable available redeployment opportunities. NUJ members at the BBC are determined to ensure that no one else loses their job because of such pointless bureaucracy and managerial intransigence.

"If the BBC wants to resolve this dispute, they need to engage meaningfully with the NUJ and find opportunities for these talented experienced journalists at risk – rather than waste public money on needless compulsory redundancies," said Ms Stanistreet, the first woman to lead the union.

Sue Harris, BBC NUJ organiser, said: "It is madness when we have the BBC on the one hand advertising job vacancies, while on the other it is laying off qualified staff. It is a waste of money and talent."

Reflecting on the situation north of the border, Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish organiser, added: "A major concern among members in Scotland is the loss of specialist reporters and correspondents. This will result in a serious dumbing down of output. In the lead up to the independence referendum we need experts in education, business and politics -- three areas where cuts are being made. Scotland needs skilled, experienced reporters asking searching questions on the economic, cultural and political implications of independence or retaining the status quo.

"It will also have a knock-on effect on the quality coverage of the Commonwealth Games, which while not as grand in scale as the Olympics, nevertheless should be offering a wonderful chance for BBC Scotland to showcase the range of skills and creativity which exists among broadcasting staff north of the border. We expect the work to rule to have an immediate impact as staff levels are already too low," Mr Holleran concluded.

* National Union of Journalists (NUJ): http://www.nuj.org.uk/

[Ekk/3]

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