Unions plan fight against BBC cuts

The BBC's three staff unions have launched a campaign against savage redundancies and budget cuts which were announced today.

At a crisis meeting in London, shortly after the BBC went public over 3,000 planned job losses, BECTU, NUJ, and Amicus representatives voted to stand together in defence of members working for the Corporation.

Read the joint union communiqué

Condemning the plan for cuts drafted by Director-General Mark Thompson, delegates from the three unions pledged to support each other in a battle to protect BBC staff, as well as the BBC's historic obligation to provide high-quality public service broadcasting.

Delegates at the meeting agreed that disruptive action would be co-ordinated across members of all three unions if any section was threatened with compulsory redundancies.

A day of action is planned in early 2005, when the unions will try to persuade politicians and opinion-formers that the BBC will undermine its public service broadcasting role if it goes ahead with the cuts.

BBC staff were still digesting the details of Mark Thompson's cutbacks while union representatives met to decide their response. Many members were angry that they had no clear idea about their futures, despite several months of press speculation, and were left no wiser by the BBC's eventual announcement of job cuts.

Among staff targeted for rapid job cuts or out-sourcing by Thompson - 2,500 Professional Services staff and another 400 in Factual programmes - there has been no clear statement from management about whom might be picked for redundancy.

Union negotiators are due to meet BBC management on Thursday 9th December 2004 to begin talks about the Thompson cuts,

Statement agreed by BECTU, NUJ, and Amicus, at a meeting of union representatives discussing BBC cuts on 7th December 2004.

The BBC joint unions are committed to working together to oppose at all levels the effects of the Director General's savaging of staff in the biggest cuts in BBC history.

His announcements showed high-handed disregard for the future of thousands of staff, and threatened the very heart of the BBC.

Far from preparing the BBC for Charter Renewal, this meeting believes that a policy which requires such colossal job cuts, reductions in programme commitments, and the sale and privatisation of core sections of the BBC, risks destroying its ability to continue as the country's leading public service broadcaster, and poses a substantial risk to the BBC's continuing right to the Licence Fee.

The unions will resist all compulsory redundancies. Through the coming months we will stand together in workplaces to oppose the scale and extent of cuts, and work in the public arena with Licence Fee payers, politicians, and opinion formers, to make the case that the BBC offers the best value for money in British broadcasting.

The staff - journalists, programme-makers, technicians, craftspeople, and support staff - make this true. They are the future of the BBC and we will fight to support them.

The joint unions agree to organise at national and local levels to oppose such massive cuts. We will view an attack on one union as an attack on all three.

The meeting delegates to the NJC team the right to negotiate at national level and decide when to return to full divisional/MFoCs meetings.

7 December 2004