Boycott of BBC's Manchester survey

BECTU members affected by the BBC's move out of London have been advised not to complete management questionnaires.

Despite a warning that unions would not cooperate with the survey, BBC managers have invited staff in areas like Sport, Childrens' programmes, and Radio 5 Live, to complete online survey forms, indicating whether they want to move to Manchester.

The anonymous 10-page questionnaires also ask about current living arrangements, relationships, dependent children, and caring responsibilities.

Members have been advised not to participate in the survey, and to provide no private information connected with the move, whether anonymously or not, until the union issues further advice.

Union officials have condemned the BBC's attempt to gather detailed information about staff attitudes to the Manchester move only four weeks after eight departments were told they might be transferring out of London.

No final decision has been made about going ahead with the move - and none is likely until the BBC's licence fee is set from 2006 onwards - while the management have so far been unable to confirm that there will be jobs for all staff who agree to move North.

Apart from Sport and Childrens', and Five Live, other London-based sections facing a move are: New Media, which runs many of the BBC's websites; CBBC and CBBC Interactive, including both BBC childrens' TV channels broadcast on digital platforms; Formal Learning; and the BBC's Research and Development Department based at Kingswood Warren.

According to BBC Director General Mark Thompson, the move to Manchester will confirm the Corporation's commitment to the regions, and silence critics who believe that the organisation is currently too London-centric.

However, the project depends on approval from government for an estimated £500m bill to create a new broadcasting centre in Manchester, and to finance the relocation, or redundancy, of more than 1,700 staff.

12 January 2005