12 April 2010
In an astonishing move, BBC executives responsible for Casualty are planning to dismiss staff in order to prevent them accruing employment rights.
An emergency meeting of the Casualty crew will take place at the Props Store Warehouse this evening, 12 April 2010, from 19.30 hours. This will be followed on Wednesday 14 April by a lunchtime protest outside the production studios (St Philips Road, Bristol) to launch the campaign to reverse the BBC's decision.
The staff affected, who work as part of the props team, face dismissal after 11 months and two weeks of continuous service.
In the UK, staff employed over 12 months secure certain employment rights.
'Talent refresh' policy
Whilst it is understood that seven of the 12-strong team are affected, the BBC's insistence that it plans to stick to its 'talent refresh' policy will reverberate through the Casualty crew and beyond.
BECTU's regional official, David Donovan, is leading the campaign and a petition is in circulation (petition forms should be returned to BECTU, Rooms 217-218,Transport House, Cathedral Road, Cardiff CF11 9SD).
Work on the next series of Casualty is set to start on 19 April 2010; meanwhile employment for some of the group is set to end on 17 April 2010.
"This treatment of individuals would be unacceptable and immoral coming from any employer. However, the fact this it is the BBC, a publically funded, and universally respected broadcaster will cause many to view the BBC in a new light," commented, Helen Ryan, supervisory official.
Staff at risk are being encouraged to lodge a formal appeal against their dismissal and a sample letter is being circulated.
Whilst the dispute centres on the BBC's attempts to stop staff accruing employment rights, it is well known that some of the staff affected have worked on Casualty for up to six years having been contracted by Bristol Design Services up until April 2009.
"The BBC's stance is so unfair and so wrong it has to be challenged publically. The experience represented by the staff at risk cannot be replaced locally and it is predicted that production managers may need to hire staff from London.
"This makes a mockery of the BBC's commitment to regional production and is set to increase costs. Where's the sense in that? BBC managers have also needlessly damaged industrial relations. We will do everything we can to persuade BBC Vision to reverse this decision."
BECTU has long campaigned for better treatment of fixed term contract staff by the BBC and revived its campaign on the issue in 2009.
Amended 14 April to include petition details.