The NUJ ballot for strike action and action short of a strike at the BBC started this week. The ballot is in response to the BBC’s misnamed Delivering Quality First proposals which include axing thousands of jobs and programming cuts at the Corporation.
According to the NUJ, the BBC intends to cut its budget by 20 per cent over the next five years; that amounts to £670million in savings every year. This is the result of a deal done by Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director general, behind closed doors last autumn which froze the licence fee until 2017.
Half of the 2,000 job cuts are in core BBC editorial and programme making. Eight hundred jobs in News are due to go plus more in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Local radio stations staff are worried that they won’t be able to carry on as they face demands for savings of 19%. Out of 380 jobs to go in English regions, 280 will go from local radio. The list of job losses goes on and on.
These cuts come on top of many years of other cutbacks. Since 2004 more than 7,000 jobs have gone at the BBC. Meanwhile the difference between pay at the top and bottom of the corporation stands at 47 times the lowest salary.
The BBC has refused to wait until the outcome of the BBC Trust’s public consultation on programme cuts before beginning the process for making people redundant. They have also refused to lift the dates they intend to impose changes to new joiners’ terms and conditions and management have also refused to initiate a voluntary redundancy scheme across the BBC. As a result, all trade union members at the BBC are being balloted. All three, the NUJ, BECTU and Unite are urging members to vote yes.
Meanwhile alongside the BBC’s announcement on 6 October, the BBC Trust launched a public consultation on the proposals. It will run until 21 December 2011 and details can be found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/october/delivering_quality_first.shtml and related links, to which you are urged to respond.