Strike ballot kicks off

Submitted by Anon on 3 May, 2005 - 11:34

Industrial action ballot papers have just been sent out to BBC workers.

The ballot, being run in protest at plans for thousands of job cuts and further privatisation of the BBC, covers members of BECTU, NUJ, and Amicus.

Voting ends on May 11, and representatives from all three unions are due to meet on the following day to lay plans for a strike, if members accept the recommendation of negotiators and vote in favour of industrial action.

Legal restrictions on industrial action ballots require several separate votes within the BBC. Each union has to poll its own members in the BBC, and in the case of BBC Broadcast and BBC Resources - subsidiaries threatened with privatisation - BECTU has to conduct separate ballots in each company.

In March the BBC's Director-General, Mark Thompson, announced that more than 3,000 jobs were to be axed, and another 3,000 staff were to be outsourced or privatised.

At a meeting with the BBC Director-General in April most of the demands tabled by unions were turned down.

A call for all redundancies to be voluntary, not compulsory, was rejected by the BBC, as was a demand that any staff facing privatisation or outsourcing should have guaranteed protection of their pension rights, terms and conditions, and job security.

Unions believe that any workers who survive the cull of jobs will be forced to take on work previously done by centralised specialists in areas like finance or HR - departments due to be cut by up to 50% - while others facing privatisation could be handed over to new employers who don't run final salary pension schemes.

Almost all areas of the BBC face job cuts, due either to brutal targets for budget savings, or Thompson's decision to cut back in-house programme-making departments in order to create more space for programmes bought in from the independent sector.