BBC News cuts: BECTU will oppose compulsory redundancies

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The BBC put the employment of some 500 in its News Division at risk today with the announcement of 415 post closures.

17 July 2014

The BBC has today (17 July) announced plans to cut 415 jobs in its News Division over the next two years. The drastic cuts of £48m, as part of £800m efficiency savings announced in 2010, will directly affect hundreds of BECTU members who work in News, both in London and across the UK.

BECTU has pledged to oppose all compulsory redundancies and is insisting - contrary to signals so far from management - that new posts trailed as part of today's announcement be filled before any redundancies take place. 

James Harding, the BBC’s director of news, has announced proposals to cut 415 jobs (affecting around 500 people) and also to create 195 new roles giving a net reduction of 225.

BBC's weak commitment to redeployment

Commenting on today's announcement, BECTU's assistant general secretary, Luke Crawley said:

"Amongst many concerns is the indication that the BBC only intends to fill the new roles after the redundancies have taken effect which would prevent current staff from being redeployed into new roles, effectively forcing them to take redundancy.

“The decision to postpone filling the new jobs until after the redundancies have taken effect looks like a cynical attempt to ensure that the BBC can bring in as many new people as possible. This approach completely undermines any meaningful attempt at redeployment and is contrary to the agreements * we have on this issue.” 

BECTU will be insisting that the BBC fills all new roles before the redundancies start to take effect in March 2015; any other approach would cost the Corporation money in redundancy payments which could be saved by redeploying staff into new roles.

Industrial action ballot could follow

Luke Crawley concluded:

"The BBC has also said that whilst asking for volunteers they may not accept all who may come forward. If any refusals result in the BBC then looking for compulsory redundancies we will be opposing this and if necessary will ballot our members for industrial action.”

BECTU, along with the NUJ and Unite, will be meeting the BBC next week to discuss the full impact of today's announcement.

Today's developments in News Division come just two days after the joint unions called a national 12-hour strike in response to a continuing dispute with the BBC over the 2014/15 pay review. The strike, on Wednesday 23 July, will coincide with the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. 

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