BBC campaign day on March 2

Unions are asking BBC staff to show their opposition to plans for cuts and privatisation this week.

Thousands of protest badges are being distributed by BECTU, NUJ, and Amicus, and staff are being asked to wear them on Wednesday March 2, the date which could also see the publication of a long-awaited government Green Paper on the BBC's future.

The badge campaign is being backed by posters, and a series of open meetings for union members in large BBC centres where union officials will outline the threat that Director General Mark Thompson's plans for change could pose to thousands of jobs.

Download poster [1130k pdf]     Download leaflet [290k pdf]

Go to schedule of meetings

Last December Thompson announced a radical shake-up of the BBC, designed to head off some of the damaging proposals he feared might be included in the Green Paper. His reorganisation, parts of which are due to be approved by senior management in March, could result in thousands of jobs either being cut completely, or outsourced to third party suppliers of services.

Privatisation of the BBC's subsidiaries will affect thousands more staff - BBC Broadcast Ltd, with 1100 staff, is likely to be advertised for sale in early March, and Thompson has indicated that BBC Resources, and parts of BBC Worldwide, will follow.

All the BBC's unions have pledged to fight against compulsory job cuts, and to resist the further privatisation of the BBC. Negotiations about the changes between unions and the BBC have been limited so far, with the management saying that until final plans have been approved, there is little to talk about.

However, union representatives at departmental level within the BBC have reported that plans being drafted by their local managers could result in cuts of up to 50% in some areas.

Within the BBC's support services there are proposals to outsource up to half of all jobs in areas like health and safety, training, personnel, and recruitment, with further redundancies for those staff who remain on the BBC's books.

In the BBC's Finance division, which includes areas like property management and the Corporation's film and tape libraries, some managers are said to have been given savage savings targets which must be met. Thompson's own estimate of back office cuts was up to 3,000 redundancies.

Programme-makers will not escape the axe - a decision by Thompson to increase the proportion of TV programmes bought from independent producers from the current, statutory, 25% to a voluntary target of 40% will cut hundreds, if not thousands, of in-house production jobs over time.

Factual and Learning Division, a major programme-making department, has already announced that more than 400 posts could be closed, although management have not yet identified where the cuts will fall.

Apart from the threat of redundancies, production staff face massive upheaval if approval is given to a plan for a move of several London departments to Manchester. Sport, Childrens, and Radio 5 Live have been earmarked for the move, along with the BBC's Research and Development department, but the plan depends on an increase in the licence fee sufficient to fund the estimated £500 million cost of a new centre in Manchester.

28 February 2005
Amended 1 March 2005