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NUJ to ballot BBC employees over service cuts and redundancies

The National Union of Journalists has written to all of its members working at the BBC to ballot for strike action across the corporation.

The ballot, which will include sister unions Bectu and Unite, follow negotiations last week on proposals to ensure that the consultation process of the announced service cuts and redundancies, would be conducted ‘in a meaningful’ and ‘transparent’ way.

The NUJ said that the BBC has rejected its demands and that it would continued with its planned schedule of cuts and its ‘unreasonable’ timeline.

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the NUJ, commented: “It is vital that any consultation process that takes place over such major cuts across the BBC is genuine and meaningful – the NUJ is 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. BBC executives and the Coalition government might not care about quality journalism and programming, but staff and members of the public care passionately about the Corporation’s future. It will be up to all NUJ members and the wider public to fight for our BBC and I urge everyone to do all they can to support our campaign.”

Representatives from the BBC are expected to meet next week in order to discuss their next steps.

The full letter to BBC employees and NUJ members is below:

Dear Colleague,

Following a national negotiating meeting last Friday the BBC has today written to the joint unions rejecting the proposals set out by the joint unions at this meeting.

As you will see from the attached letter which was sent to all members by post yesterday these were in summary:

- Withdrawal of the 1st April imposition date on changes to terms and conditions for new joiners.

- No formal consultation with the unions to commence before the BBC Trust concludes its public consultation in areas covered by the public consultation.

- Full public examination of the plan to move factual programmes from Birmingham to Bristol.

- Co-ordinated voluntary redundancy trawls in BBC divisions prior to formal consultation in all areas - rather than all divisions acting differently and arbitrarily from one another.

- No new pay and grading structure to be implemented prior to the end of this licence fee settlement.

The BBC has today written to the joint unions with a response. Whilst the BBC has accepted that they will await the outcome of public consultation in two areas – local radio and Asian Network – before they start formal consultation, they have said that if the outcome of the consultation is delayed beyond March 2012 they reserve the right to begin formal consultation at that stage.

The BBC has comprehensively rejected the other points made by the joint unions in Friday’s meeting; indicating they will press ahead with starting the formal process of making the cuts in areas they consider ‘critical’. They have also refused to agree to a co-ordinated process of voluntary trawls – despite this being something they signed up to in our redeployment agreement signed two days before DQF was announced. Crucially they have also refused to withdraw the implementation dates for changes to new joiners terms and conditions.

It is vital that any consultation process that takes place over such major cuts across the BBC is genuine and meaningful – the joint unions are not prepared to accept a fait accompli. Lucy Adams has dubbed this an attempt by the joint unions to kick the proposals into the long grass – this is absolutely not the case. We are, however, committed to ensuring the BBC behaves properly and transparently throughout such an important process.

Given the BBC has rejected this national framework agreement which would allow for meaningful negotiations to take place in a reasonable timeframe the joint unions have no alternative but to ballot all members for industrial action. The joint unions will not take part in any formal union consultation meetings with the BBC on DQF as a result. Of course this does not preclude informal discussions and information sharing at a local level in order that all members of staff can understand how the proposals affect them.

It is clear that the BBC is intent on pressing ahead regardless with its plans to cut back core programmes and services and to attack the jobs and terms and conditions of our members.

These misguided cuts put the BBC’s very future as a quality public service broadcaster at stake. It will be up to us to fight for our BBC and we will be writing to all members shortly about what you can do to support the wider public campaign.

BBC M/Focs will meet together on Wednesday 2 November.

Please feed back to your reps before then.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary

Laura Davison, National Broadcasting Official

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