BBC workers name new strike days over job cuts

NUJ BBCScotland placardsNUJ members at the BBC are to hold two further days of strike action over compulsory redundancies at newsrooms in Scotland.

There will be 24-hour walkouts on 22 and 25 March.

The action comes as the journalists union and BECTU are holding a joint industrial action ballot which could see a second national strike at the broadcaster before the end of the month.

Hundreds of NUJ members took strike action last month. Since then, management has taken steps to redeploy staff facing redundancy in some parts of the BBC, but not in Scotland.

NUJ officials say 9 members of staff are facing compulsory redundancy north of the border in less than 3 weeks time. In a workplace vote yesterday, members at BBC Scotland said they felt they had no option but to take immediate industrial action.

UnionNews understands NUJ activists are preparing to stage short walkouts in solidarity at other BBC sites.

NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said: “A letter to staff from BBC Scotland Director Ken MacQuarrie this week calling for people to vote ‘no’ in the ballot has hardened attitudes among our members.

“There is just not the political will on the part of management at BBC Scotland to slot people into jobs under the Corporation’s redeployment process, as they are supposed to do.”

BECTU has called on members across the BBC to vote ‘yes’ in the ballot.

Officials say successive years of budget cuts – where fewer staff are meeting unchanged work commitments in the face of still more cuts – is untenable.

Calls from both unions for a moratorium on compulsory redundancies and further job cuts to allow serious discussions about workloads, stress and bullying in the workplace have so far been rejected by management.

Unions say an atmosphere of bullying and intimidation of staff has risen to alarming levels inside the publicly-funded broadcaster as the effects of a 2010 in the TV license fee have cut into staff numbers.

BECTU’s senior BBC official, Helen Ryan said: “Staff are working excessive hours and long days to get their job done and they worry about being criticised for poor performance if they speak out.

“Despite what some current management may wish to believe, the issue of bullying and harassment is a live one and is potentially greater today than at any time in the past.

“We do not believe that it is possible to convince staff that the BBC is serious about addressing this whilst it continues to make staff redundant with the subsequent increase in workload that follows.”

The joint unions ballot is due to close on 20 March.

You can watch our film report on the dispute here: