Unions at the BBC — BECTU, NUJ and Amicus — are set to begin a ballot for strike action over massive cuts at the corporation.
At the beginning of March the BBC Director General announced 2,900 job losses. He also wants a 15% cut in departmental budgets. This will lead, say the unions, to thousands more job losses. Many more BBC programmes are to be “outsourced”, made by outside companies, whole sections of the BBC will be sold off.
This is, according to National Union of Journalists General Secretary Jeremy Dear, not just a union issue, but one of general public concern. “Quality will suffer and the BBC will be in a worse shape to… be a strong, independent cornerstone of public service broadcasting.”
The changes have been made by the BBC’s top managers to stave off criticism — that the BBC is not worth its independent charter and the licence fee. The BBC is seen as “unfair competition” in the increasingly fragmented, diverse and prolific broadcasting market. Bringing itself into line with “commercial” broadcasting means in the first place, BBC bosses further attacking working conditions, expanding casual labour and foregoing training and equal opportunities.
The unions want no compulsory redundancies, and they say, no privatisation. Effectively however they are fighting for workers to be guaranteed the same conditions under the terms of any sell-off.