30 July 2014
The ballot follows a meeting on 24 July where management refused to guarantee that they would take advantage of 195 newly created jobs to minimise compulsory redundancies.
BECTU, along with the NUJ, is calling for the new jobs to be filled before the redundancies are implemented. Negotiators believe this would save the BBC money by reducing the number of redundancy payments that would need to be made. BECTU has also asked for a recruitment freeze across both areas following a recent spate of appointments from outside the BBC into posts in News, which could and should have been used to mitigate any redundancies. The BBC has already begun asking for volunteers for redundancy and BECTU has sought reassurances that as part of that process, volunteers will not be turned down if that could lead to staff members in the same category being made compulsorily redundant.
Assistant general secretary Luke Crawley said: “When there is a real chance of compulsory redundancies, it is unacceptable that any jobs in News and the World Service should be filled from outside the corporation. Our members in BBC News and the World Service need to be convinced by management that they will not be denied genuine redeployment opportunities. BBC Radio (also going through redundancies) has had a recruitment freeze for several months so there is no reason why BBC News and the World Service cannot introduce one right away. BECTU members will be willing to take strike action to make sure everything is done by the BBC to avoid compulsory redundancies.”
Following the disastrous licence settlement negotiated in 2010 by the then-director general, Mark Thompson, BBC News and the World Service are now facing significant budget cuts. As well as a freeze in the licence fee, the BBC is now fully funding the World Service, and making significant contributions to S4C (the Welsh language TV service) and local television. In order to find the savings required, the BBC has been making cuts since 2011 across every area under the misleadingly titled Delivering Quality First budget programme.
BBC News and the World Service have found themselves under the spotlight recently thanks to their involvement in a move from Bush House and Television Centre to New Broadcasting house between 2011 and 2013. The proposed cuts are intended to save around £27m per year in News and a further £13 million in the World Service, freeing up money for investment in new jobs.
The ballot is due to start one week from today, 6 August, but may be delayed if another meeting with the BBC is scheduled.