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BECTU challenges BBC Academy cuts plan

BECTU flag in gold and blue. BECTU officials will meet with BBC Academy management on Friday 8 July as part of the agreed consultation.

6 July 2011

The BBC Academy is proposing cuts in staffing which BECTU believes “are so severe and focused on the wrong targets, that if implemented, the Academy would not have sufficient capacity which, in turn, would be both business and broadcast damaging.”

The Academy’s management is working towards making 35 per cent savings equivalent to a cut of some £10m in its annual budget. More than half of the required savings (£5.5m) derive from Putting Quality First, a review of BBC strategy first launched by director-general, Mark Thompson, in February 2010. 

Two meetings are scheduled currently to address the proposals following a trawl to identify staff interested in voluntary redundancy which closed on 30 June.

Officials and management will meet on 8 July and then again on 18 July.

Threat to business critical training

BECTU and the NUJ believe that the plan to cut Academy staffing from 191 posts to 158 posts - 38 people are directly affected - risks leaving BBC departments without the business critical training they need.

BECTU is also concerned that the Academy’s work to establish itself as an industry wide resource, evidenced not least by the successful Fast Train event in May, will be set back by the cuts. 

Commenting on the proposals, BECTU said:

“BECTU wants to work with the BBC to create a world-class training organisation. These proposals threaten to diminish the Academy. We’re not prepared to help turn the Academy into White City’s white elephant.”

The Academy is on record as wanting to bring ‘new talent and new ideas’ into the department by increasing the proportion of freelance and guest trainers it deploys.

BECTU and the NUJ will be arguing for the right balance of staff to freelance effort to ensure that high quality in-house training can continue to be delivered to meet the substantial needs of the BBC and in a way which does not ignore staff welfare.

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Article amended 11 July, 2011, 13.00.

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