BBC journalists have taken strike action twice in 12 months against redundancies, pension cuts

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Three unions at the BBC are to hold a strike ballot against plans to cut programme services and 2000 jobs at the Corporation.

BECTU, the NUJ and Unite accuse BBC Director General Mark Thompson of attempting to drive ahead with a planned schedule of cuts under an unreasonable timetable without proper consultation.

BECTU accused the BBC of holding a gun to the unions’ heads. In a statement it warned that a ‘yes’ vote in the ballot would see strikes before Christmas affecting programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary said: “we are not prepared to accept a fait accompli. These misguided cuts put the BBC’s very future as a world class public service broadcaster at stake.”

Under plans announced on the 6th of October, the BBC declared it intends to make cuts of up to 20% across the Corporation – 4% higher than savings required by the government’s reduction in the TV licence fee last year. The unions say BBC management is attempting to squeeze more than 60 per cent of the intended cuts out of the staff budget.

In a letter to union negotiators yesterday, BBC management indicated they intend to press ahead without further negotiations by starting the formal process of making the cuts in areas they consider ‘critical’.

BECTU says preparations are underway to distribute ballot papers on Thursday 3 November. Voting will close on Thursday 24 November.

General secretary Gerry Morrissey said: “The proposals threaten fundamental and far-reaching changes for all BBC staff; union officials are not prepared to negotiate with a gun to our heads.

“Without a change to the BBC’s position, we are under no illusions that a vote for strike action will mark the start of a programme of industrial action which could affect the highlights of the BBC’s autumn/winter schedule including the Strictly Come Dancing finals and the Sports Personality of the Year awards.”


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